Simply Balisha

Simply Balisha

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Balisha's Garden 2014 Review and 1st New Year's Eve

Sometimes I don't like those year end reviews on TV. So here I am following the crowd and taking you through my last year of gardening. I'll try to make it interesting. Here goes: 

Spring came and my little garden by the drive started blooming. Daffodils and hens and chicks. In spring, we are thrilled by anything that blooms. We had a rough winter and this past spring was looked forward to like no other. The bloggers were lamenting the cold weather from east to west. Spring was a respite from all that weather, so that anything blooming was appreciated. Before long the mulch will be hidden.
Tulips and daffs. Such a little bouquet compared to some of the other bloggers gardens. This little planting is special to only me. It was a pot of springtime from my daughter years ago. I just plopped them in the ground as they were in the pot. They come back every year and I have divided and planted them in other places in the garden.
Mary's Garden just starting to take off. I'm not a good judge of how things will fill in. Always think I need a little more. Do you see those little hostas?
My little veggie garden in containers just starting out. One tomato, two tomato. Herbs and lettuce in the other pots around the yard.

The early hosta surprised me with lots of blooms this year. Must have been a good year for them. This is where I found the little green tree frogs.
Do you see how Mary's Garden is filling in? 
Tim's garden filled in too. The orange lilies will have some company this next year. There will be a bit more orange in my gardens.
This hosta, one of seven, was so pretty. A bird built a nest in amongst the vine this year.
Purple coneflowers bloomed for so long. Some years their stems get a bit ugly, but not this year. They bloomed and bloomed. Great munching for the finches. 
We put some planters out at the end of the drive. They were planted with just geraniums and did so well.....I will do that again this year.Our mail carrier had a bit of color with the red and then the yellow day lilies.
Here are the tiny tomatoes mixed in with the Purple Hyacinth Bean vines. A handful a day....some made it to the house :)
Birds dropped sunflower seeds in several places....sunflowers filled in where weeds might have. This one is in my stackable planter on the deck. We got to see the finches up close as they stole a seed or two.
Now this is a pretty flower. Star Gazer Lilies popped up in several places around the yard. They were brought in and graced our home with their beauty and fragrance.I seldom make bouquets from my yard. I love to see them growing outside.
A basket of tomatoes. Enough for us two. BLT's for lunch...yum!!
Black Eyed Susans and Japanese Anemones mix together well. They are indestructible and well worth the wait. 
Can't forget the woods. It's the end of the growing season and this little bluebird house is empty. The Honeysuckle vines are turning yellow and gardening has come to an end. 

Well, not really the end. There was still the dreaded fall cleanup. All the bloggers were dreading this, but we got it done. I did most of it, but the final raking out was done by the fellow who mows for us. The first year that I couldn't really get it all done. When we had our first frost...the yard was cleaned up and I could walk along the woods edge and sprinkle wildflower seeds. I think that the birds were following just behind me, but a few seeds will grow in the spring...always a surprise for me.

So, my year end post has been done. As I look back on the 2014 garden, I am thinking that I did quite a bit more than the past year. Doing things a little at a time is my way. I don't know what 2015 will bring......whether I'll be able to do more or less. My lesson from 2014 is to be patient....things will grow....things will fill in.  

As for New Year's Eve. We will go out for an early dinner in Rockford and then home to watch the new year come in in NYC. I'm making a couple of snacks for us.

We'll probably tell the old story of our first New Year's Eve, when Joe was in his house and I was in mine. His companion...Laddie the Springer Spaniel. Mine was Maggie the Cocker Spaniel wearing her party hat. We were on the phone and both watching the same show on PBS TV. He toasted the New Year with a martini and a steak and I had a little bottle of wine from one of those 4 packs and a lobster tail. We were getting the idea of marrying....thinking that we didn't want to spend New Year's Eve like that again. We got married 5 months later. The rest is history.
Happy New Year to all....Hugs, Balisha

Monday, December 29, 2014

This and That

Christmas is almost over. We have one more celebration on the 4th. Did it seem like Christmas this year? I have heard several people say that it just didn't seem like Christmas to them. Maybe the fact that we didn't have any snow, but there are lots of places that never have any snow. Do those people get the Christmas blahs...I wonder.I seem to have those blahs I will get out and visit my local grocery. Our fridge is sort of empty, after all the holiday feasting.

 I rented a movie called The November Man over the weekend. I thought that Joe would like an action film. Then last night, he went to the video store and brought home Magic in the Moonlight. It was a film starring Colin Firth and Emma Watson. He knew that I would love this film. Loved the clothes....sort of like the clothes in Downton Abbey.(Can't wait for the 4th...when Downton starts the new season) We both enjoyed seeing the old cars and lovely gardens on the estate.   A couple of days ago, I watched Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory starring Patty Duke. A cup of hot chocolate, an easy chair, my afghan and a wonderful film to enjoy. 

I've developed a cough. It's a lot like and asthma cough. Chest gets tight and uncomfortable. I only cough here at home. As soon as I come in the door...I start in. I've tried to think of anything new that I have put in the house. My geraniums, that sit right next to me in the computer room, were just blooming. I decided to toss them. We just switched bed covers and I put the down comforter away. I love milk, but I have stopped drinking it. I've always been bothered by allergies. My son has asthma, grandson too. My brother is allergic to pine trees.  Dad was allergic to down, and different cheeses, and he had asthma. Until I married Joe...I lived amongst smokers. My daughter and I were the only ones who were non smokers. At my yearly physical, I talked to the Dr. about this and he told me to try Musinex. He said my lungs are clear. So, here I am trying to find the culprit. Thinking that we will have the carpet cleaned. We usually do this in the early spring or fall, but I want to do what I can to stop this. Any ideas???

Well, it's nice to see the sun today. It was a nice trip to the grocery. Everyone is so kind...a pleasure to shop in our little town. So much more personal than the big stores. Friendly, helpful clerks at my beck and call. Help out to the car with my groceries. Friendly conversation. Recipe exchanges often. I know it's more expensive, but I have an argument for that. There isn't as big a selection in a small town store. Not so many temptations. If you watch the sales and make a detailed list...I do believe that you can spend about the same at each store...counting the gas that is spent for driving a distance. Maybe a little more at a small store, but the benefits are many. Joe prefers the big stores in Rockford, but I don't like the drive. So, he does 1/2 the shopping and I do the rest. It works out well for us. 

Guess I better close. I have chop suey cooking for dinner. I was going to have shrimp stir fry, but since we have already had fish over the weekend, I decided to change the menu. Stir fry will come later in the week.

Have a nice day....Balisha

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Our Christmas....So Far

We spent Christmas day with Dan and Melody. Dan is Joe's son. Their home is always so pretty at Christmas time. I forgot to take a picture of their beautiful Christmas tree. Mel has been collecting white ornaments for years...for this all in white tree. She puts all the ornaments on herself...just so. When it's time to pack it all up...she is very particular about how it is packed. She also has a collection of stuffed Christmas animals. There are three stairways where they are displayed. She couldn't get all the animals out this year. She said, "We need a bigger house!"

 These are so colorful with their white carpeting.
 Dan carving the ham. He must have taken lessons from his dad. I loved watching the two of them as they moved from job to job...not getting in each other's way. The appetizer tray was delicious with Mel's homemade dip. The meal was excellent. Baked ham with pineapple, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, tossed salad, rolls, and for dessert...cannolis. 
We were treated royally on Christmas. They made us welcome and gifted us with several nice presents. We were waited on hand and foot. 

It's nice to have Christmas spread out over a couple of weeks. We get to enjoy each family and really get to talk and visit with each other. Our next event is on the 4th of January...when we get together with the other members of the Cerasa gang.

My family Christmas was early...the 13th of December. Grand daughter, Xoie and her husband Kyle and little boy Clifford were we did it early. My daughter and grandson Collin are in Ecuador as I write this. Today they are flying to the Galapagos. This was an early graduation gift to Collin from his aunt. Grandson, Tyler is in Florida with his girl friend's family, and my son, John is leaving to spend the New Year in Mexico. So, my family is scattered for the holidays. 

Christmas is matter how you celebrate. Our Church plays a big part in our Christmas. We went to Mass on Christmas Eve and found our Church decorated so beautifully. The Christ child was in the manger and Christmas carols were sung for the first time this season. Today we will again go to Mass and then a Holy Day of Obligation on the 1st of Jan. With all the hustle and bustle of Christmas it's wonderful to find a peaceful place in our world. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Last Christmas by Balisha

I was looking back at some of my old Christmas posts and found this one. Hope you enjoy it...B

The Last Christmas...a story by Balisha

Once upon a time in a cottage near the little woods, lived an elderly couple. They lived here alone, for many years, because they had no children. They had each other and were still very much in love. This was a hard year for the couple, because it was found  that she was gravely ill. She would soon be leaving him all alone. Her husband tended to her every need, treating her very gently. He had lost the twinkle in his had been replaced by a tear. Each morning, as she sat by the window, in her rocking chair...he would bring her a cup of tea in a favorite china cup. There she would sit, watching her special chickadees...flying to and fro, carrying sunflower seeds to the little woods. He would prepare the tastiest meals...hoping to coax her to eat. Day by day...she was getting weaker. Christmas was coming but this year was different. No shopping in the village, no gingerbread smells coming from the little kitchen, no candles burning, and no Christmas decorations in the house. The days went by one after the other..until finally it was Christmas Eve. She went to the bedroom to try to take a nap...she often did this in the afternoon. Today she was feeling sleepy but sleep wouldn't come. She could hear her husband rummaging around the kitchen. What was he up to? She was too weak to get out of bed and investigate. It was getting dark...her favorite time of the day. She called it twilight time. On days, when she felt strong, she would sit in her rocker by the window...and watch night fall. She loved nights when the stars would twinkle like the lights in her husband's eyes. Sleeping a little now, she heard a noise coming from the other room. What was that sound? Away in a Manger filled the room...she heard little voices singing that familiar Christmas carol. Her husband came into the room and said, "I have a wee surprise for you, sweetheart." He went to the bed and picked her up in his arms...wrapping her old worn quilt around her. He took her into the living room where she saw his wonderful surprise. Clear glass jars with strings of tiny white Christmas lights in them, were placed everywhere.. making the room twinkle like a Christmas tree. She had tears in her eyes. Her husband had been busy in the kitchen emptying the storage jars and filling them with lights. It was a simple Christmas treat for his love....a memory in the making for him. She heard tiny children's voices filling the room with Silent Night. He carried her to the door and there on the porch was the children's choir...from St. Mary's. Little children in warm clothes, woolen scarves and tousled hats, with bright apple cheeks...were singing their hearts out. The couple stayed by the door until they were finished with their songs. They invited the children into the warm house. They had no cookies to offer, but gave them each a shiny red apple. This was the last Christmas that they would be together. Now several years later, as he sat in her rocker by the window, he thought back on that night...the night he had lit up his wife's world and made her eyes twinkle.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

From Our House to Yours

                   From our house to yours....Merry Christmas!

The gifts are bought and wrapped, the house is decorated, the cookies are baked, the cards are mailed and now it's time for Christmas. We will celebrate at Mass tomorrow evening and then have dinner at Dan and Melody's on Christmas day. We will celebrate with Joe's side of the family on the 4th of January. We already had Christmas with my side on the 13th. So, you see....we just keep on celebrating. 
I may be back here before Christmas, but if not....I just want to wish all my blogging friends the happiest of holidays. To those who aren't feeling up to par...get well soon. To those going through  hard times...I hope that times get better for you. To those suffering a loss...take care and know that we bloggers stick together and help each other by reading and leaving heartfelt comments. 
Merry Christmas....Love, Balisha

Holy Smokes!

The cloudy day started out with a bang. My dear old hair dryer blew up in my hand. I was blow drying my locks, when a loud sound came out of my hair dryer...sounded like it was falling apart. It went pop and I saw fire. I quickly pulled the plug and the thing just died. The bathroom was filled with smoke. 
I've been a little concerned that I am loosing a goodly amount of hair each time I wash it. I guess I should count my lucky stars that my drying hair didn't go up in flames. 
I'll be back later to do a proper post. Just sitting here relaxing after my scare.

Monday, December 22, 2014

I Wasn't Going to Bake Cookies

 I didn't plan on baking cookies this year. Maybe just a few for us to let us know it's Christmas. We are celebrating Christmas day with Joe's son Dan and his lady, Mel. Mel loves my cookies. She was disappointed that I hadn't made any on Thanksgiving.
 So, when I called Dan and asked what I could bring...he said "Christmas cookies." I didn't have the heart to tell him that I didn't bake any. So early this morning, I started baking. Four kinds of cookies are sitting in containers...waiting to be arranged on a plate to go to Mel and Dan. Cutouts (what would Christmas be without cutouts?) molasses crinkles..(one of my favorites...anything with ginger and molasses) and the Eagle Brand layer cookies. I made rum balls a while back...they are getting mellow in the fridge.
Of course when Joe came home...he had to sample them to make sure that they are good. I guess they passed the test. After these pics were taken, I made the layered ones with Eagle Brand Milk. I wouldn't have frosted the cut outs if I was the only one eating them, but Joe loves frosting. 
So, we will have cookies on Christmas day. I didn't make there won't be any for the birds.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

An Angel Played the Harp

This is a Christmas memory of mine from kindergarten in 1943.

As you enter the school...visualize a huge area with class rooms all around. The highly polished wooden floor was used as a gym and also where we had special programs. There was a piano there as well. I was in kindergarten and looking forward to Santa Claus and everything Christmas. My dad was over seas was war time. We were going to celebrate Christmas without my dad for the first time. It was going to be a rather sparse holiday. I think that teachers were trying their best to make this a good Christmas for little ones. We had a little band in our classroom....we children playing simple instruments and Mrs. Blair playing the piano. I think that most teachers played the piano in those days. I always wanted to play the triangle, but never did. I usually played the wooden blocks that you struck with a stick to keep time. We started the day by saying the pledge of allegiance to our flag. A room full of little children with hands over their proud and serious. It was my turn to hold the flag, as my dad was in the army. I remember being so proud. 
We went on to do our normal activities....listening to a story, using that big paste jar...finishing up our Christmas projects, we had our little milk it was chocolate milk for me. This was a treat because I usually had to have white milk. Joe reminds me that we kept our milk money in  little hankies...tied in the corner with a knot. We might have had cookies instead of graham crackers and then nap time, where we would rest on our little individual rugs. Today was a special day, because our teacher, Mrs. Blair, brought her harp to school for our program in the big hall. I can see it now....little children climbing the stairs to the big hall and taking our places sitting on the floor. She began to play....I had never heard such a sound..... not even in Church. Christmas carols seemed to be written for this instrument. We all joined in by singing the songs that we all knew by heart. The children were so attentive and no one spoke out of turn. I don't remember anything else about that program. Maybe there was a Santa...I don't recall. The memory that has lasted all my life was my teacher playing that harp. I had heard of Angels playing harps in Church....and Mrs. Blair played that harp like an Angel.

Merry Christmas,

Saturday, December 20, 2014

An Appetizer

It looked like a wreath until I added the cheese. This appetizer is so easy to make and really looks good and tastes good. It can be eaten by everyone...vegetarians if you use vegetarian refried beans.There is a version using meat, but I like this one better. 

The way I make it is to take a softened 8 oz. pkg of cream cheese and put a big dollop of sour cream in as you mix it. I add a packet of taco seasoning to that. Then I spread it on the dish....not coming to the edge. I take a can of refried beans and spread spoonfuls around the cream cheese....using the whole can. Then spread sour cream over the top of those two things. I put a ring of chopped tomatoes around that and then chopped lettuce. Put sliced black olives in the center. Then comes the shredded cheddar....You can put just a ring of it around so you have a perfect wreath, but we like a lot of I sprinkle it all over. I serve this with blue and natural tortilla chips. I put a jar of salsa on the table, so the ones who like more heat can use it. People take big spoonfuls and put them on a plate along with some chips.
I made this when the kids were over and noticed that the blue chips were sturdier and folks didn't have a problem with chips breaking.

Today is gloomy again. Not much in the way of snow I guess traveling will not have any problems. Gloomy outside....make it bright inside. Christmas trees lit all day long and candles burning. Mass tonight and no plans for tomorrow. 
Have a nice weekend,

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Little Child Shall Lead

 We had a visit from these little ones yesterday. Oh, their mom and dad came too :) They came for lunch and stayed all afternoon. We really had a chance to catch up on their lives. Great grandpa Joe is holding little Annah and Drake who is always ready for a picture. 

I asked Drake if he liked chicken noodle soup and he said, "I love it." I couldn't have had a better lunch. I made homemade soup just the day before and we had the taco seven layer dip with chips, a plate of cheese and sausages, some relishes, and for cream sundaes and oreos with red frosting in the middle. Drake mentioned that he didn't like carrots, but he started eating them and finished all the carrots in his soup....good boy. When it came time for dessert, he told me that he didn't really like ice cream. I bought some little snowman ice creams just for him and when he saw them, he decided that he wanted one. I let him decorate it with choc. sauce, whipped cream, and a cherry. No cherry for him.

Our conversation at the table was about the soup and some other recipes that Joe was telling about. Joe's grandma raised him and was from Sicily. As a little  boy, Joe had to take her shopping and translate for her. Here was this little boy, on tiptoe, telling the butcher what they wanted and then talking between his Grandma and the butcher. He remembers many of her "Peasant" recipes. Dave asked how the soup was made and between Joe and I we got the recipe across to him. Dave and Ashley sampled Joe's fried peppers and they loved them along with the dried Italian olives. I promised to send them the recipes by email. 

While all this was going on, little Annah was entertaining herself on a blanket on the floor. No pacifier for this little girl. She entertains herself, by looking around at everything.....especially watching her young brother playing. He stops what he's doing and talks to her, kisses her and shows so much affection. She blows bubbles and coos in return. She's going to be a beauty when she grows up.  The apple of her great grandpa's eye. First girl born to the Cerasa's. Oh, my!
Drake and I played hide and seek, made a fort, played I Spy, and played with his little action figures. He brought a little feathered tiny maybe two inches long....a feather had come off and he wanted me to glue it...which I did after lunch. It belonged to his Great Grandma. He didn't talk much about Christmas....he has been to see Santa and has a little tree in his room. He gave me a candy cane to put on my tree. He was fascinated by my little woodland tree. He knew all the animals and picked out his favorite...the turtle. I later gave it to him for his tree. 
We spent a lot of time looking at the different pebbles in my tray for under my orchids. He had been to the children's museum and knew what a fossil was. We were trying to find different shapes and fossils. Later, Grandpa Joe gave him a shiny stone that had been polished...Drake loved it. As I was looking at this little satisfied with just the simple things, I thought to myself, "Why can't we all be like this? When do we lose that innocence of childhood, when everything is a wonder?" 

We enjoyed their visit, so much. We don't get a lot of company so when they do come it's special to us. We'll see them again on Jan. 4th, when we celebrate Christmas with Joe's family. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Be Gentle With Yourselves

What could be more gentle than a kitten?

I wrote something to a  blogger, in a comment that I want to share, so I remember it. I sometimes sit here and read what people have shared....and think how busy women are at holiday time. Blogs seem to have a way of rushing us into decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking and so on. We end up feeling like we will never get finished and our hearts beat faster, we breathe faster, and we tense up.So many years, I have been sick at Christmas. All from over doing.  I decided to take it a little slower this year....well, for that matter I'm taking everything a bit slower :) It's worked out well for me.
                Christmas plate on little shelf over the kitchen sink.

Some blogger friends have had surgery in the past month, some are dealing with loss, some have extra events like family weddings...and they are especially stressed with all the things that "need" to be done. My comment was, "Be extremely gentle with yourself this Christmas season."I had just read that on the internet that morning. It seemed so appropriate for that moment. I never paid attention to the Christmas plate on the shelf in my kitchen. It tells of the gentle season of Christmas. Gentle in nature and what I'm saying about our lives.
We find that we just can't do it all. Wonder women... we are not. We are not responsible for making everyone happy and making every one's Christmas perfect. We can't make a happy home if we aren't happy. Being gentle with one's self is perfect for this time of year. Take care of ourselves. Why not put ourselves first for a change? I don't think that's a selfish comment. It's hard, I know, with children depending on us. They will survive with a little less....and a happy relaxed mom. The family will survive by helping a stressed mom. Your husband will be happier with a relaxed wife. 
Have you ever sat there in the light of the Christmas tree....when the meal is eaten and the presents opened and think to it over already? It was so much work and now it's over in a flash. The big Christmas let down comes at that time. Maybe your kids are in bed....hubby is snoring in his chair, even the dog and cat are napping, the candles are burning down to the last nub, the kitchen is a mess, wrapping paper on the carpet, and there you sit in a state of wonder. Not the joyous wonder of Christmas, but the wonder of "is that all there is?" 
So, before we get to the actual day....maybe reading this will help some to slow down and only do the things that are going to be remembered. So many things could be let go. Be extremely gentle with yourselves this Christmas season. It only comes once a year. 


Monday, December 15, 2014

I Love My Crazy Family

This is my antique coffee jar. The lights don't look as colorful in this picture. It wouldn't be Christmas without this jar. It brings back memories of my son, Tim. When I first did this, he was visiting and kidded me about my fire hazard in the kitchen. I wondered about it and would light it for a short while and then turn it off. Since then, I've left it lit for several hours and it hasn't caught fire yet. He also teased me about putting lights under the cotton around my village. "Tsk tsk, Mom.....a fire hazard." He was such a tease all his life. I miss that most about him. 

I was a crafter in those days and made some little wooden blocks with the letters MERRY CHRISTMAS on them. When ever my kids were visiting....they would mess the letters up and have something like MERRY RISTMACHS I had to check these each time they left.

I had a little music box, that was a miniature roll top desk. When my Dad would visit...he would open the desk and put money inside. A few coins that would rattle when I dusted. I always knew that he had done it and would call him and we would get a laugh out of this.

I got a letter in the mail one day from what I thought was our village hall. Inside a declaration that I was chosen care giver of the year and had won a prize. My prize was a sheet of Christmas stamps. I knew it was from my Dad. He found a way to give me something for helping to take care of my Mom who had Alzheimer's.

When we all get together, we always bring up the same old stories. Our memories are mostly of the funny things that happened to us. LuAnn and Tyler tipping over in the canoe, Collin seeing an anteater on the road, Syd walking around my car 100 times, Xoie with her driving skills, the grandma's talking about Gromer's grocery store, their dad and his cage with the mongoose, John and the car door, and me with my Burger King hat....these are just a few of our stories.

We are a family of a  group of people who all have a good sense of humor. At our family gatherings...there's a lot of joking and laughter. Quite a noisy crowd all having a good time. As my grand daughter, Syd, just said on Facebook..."I love my crazy family!"


Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Poem for Clifford, by his Great Grandma

                   Christmas Through a Child's Eyes by Balisha

Looking at this little boy with a smile so big and bright..
His little mind was dancing with thoughts of pure delight.
He is new to us this Christmas and we loved him from day one...
He brings such joy and gladness... and hours and hours of fun.
We buried him with presents... and listened to him say....
"Thank you and I love you," in his very special way.
He hugged his footed pjs and kissed his other toys...
He ran the train and played the games....his face so full of joy.
Today he rides the train.... to Chicago to see the sights...
Nose pressed against the window with wonder beaming bright.
His visit is so short...we want to spend more time it's true...
Clifford...Happy Christmas from your Grandma who loves you.

We were happy to have Grand daughter Xoie, and her new husband Kyle, and their son, Clifford here for an early Christmas. We met he and his dad for the first time yesterday. Clifford stole my heart....a precious little boy with a little southern drawl. So appreciative with his gifts. He hugged his pajamas and kissed some other toys. He called his jeans his "day pants" and had us laughing. He played the Nintendo and kept us in stitches. Xoie and Kyle should be proud of this little fellow. His manners show what they have been teaching him. As he hugged me and said that he loved me....I couldn't help but shed a tear. I love this little boy that I just met yesterday.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Winter Birds

Christmas is almost here...but the birds don't watch the calendar. They are in survival mode...always searching for food, be it seeds from dried plants left in the garden, or bird feeders in our neighborhood. They are constant visitors to our feeders. I am sometimes lazy about filling the feeders. I guess that I am just nice and warm in the house and hate to go out to fill them. As I age, I find that I am chilly a lot of the time. I have to laugh at my Christmas list for Joe. I asked for Cuddle Duds (a brand name for thin long underwear for women) These are so nice to wear under clothing.....they are thin enough that clothes slip on easily. In the warm months my outdoor wear is mostly jeans, t shirts, my denim jacket, and tennis shoes. Winter wear is so different. Coats, woolen scarves, fingerless mittens, boots, and knitted hats. No fashion plate....I am a character in the neighborhood :) Well, getting back to the birds. Joe placed a small galvanized can behind the tall evergreen by the front porch. If we get a lot of snow, I can just take a few steps to the can and fill the feeder. The deck feeders....the same. The main can is in the garage. I hope this works this winter. I can barely eat my breakfast if a hungry little bird is looking at me. I especially love the winter birds. They stay through thick and thin and entertain me with their antics. The blue jay coming for a peanut, the tufted titmouse with his precious call... to let me know he's here, the cardinals...chickadees and nut hatches all make an appearance.....and then there is the junco who makes his appearance only in the winter. Why does this bird love the cold? He's a favorite, because he cleans up the deck under the feeder. I do let my shelf feeders get empty...that way there is not much waste on the deck or ground.

We are celebrating Christmas tomorrow with my side of the family, so I have been busy this morning with the presents. Making sure I have them all and putting them in big cartons for the car. It looks like the weather will cooperate this year. We will see our grand daughter and family from N Carolina and daughter from DC along with all the locals. It should be a fun day tomorrow.

So, on this misty moisty morning, I will make a trip out to the feeder. I'll get into my winter get up and face the cold to feed my friends. I wish Christmas would hurry....I need those Cuddle Duds.


Before I go out I have to say that I forgot Joe's favorite birds...the woodpeckers. The suet feeder is a favorite for them. We have downy, hairy, and red bellied woodpeckers. They need a new suet block too.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gingerbread Men Falling From the Sky

The story of the gingerbread man has always been a favorite of mine. I love the part where it says, "Run, run, as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread man." Little kids always love to chime in during that part of the story.

I love to eat gingerbread. It was a dessert that we had during the winter at our house so many times. Mom would take it out of the oven just before dinner and always had a sauce to pour over it. A lemon sauce was my favorite. I don't know why it isn't served more these days. An easy dessert that can be baked in an 8X8 pan and for families...eaten at one time.

Gingerbread cookies are something that I made many times in the past. They are time consuming, but a gingerbread man...wrapped in cellophane with a red ribbon would make anyone smile.

One year I used them for decorating. We had a wide doorway from the kitchen into the dining room. I put holes in the top of the "men" and when they were cool, I attached a red ribbon to each of them and hung them across the doorway. It was winter and my youngest had a cold. We were using the vaporizer at the time and over a few days the cookies softened. They started to fall to the floor. Our dog, Cubby, found that she could lie just under the cookies and get a treat once in a while. Food just fell out of the sky...magic, she thought. I don't know how many she ate before I figured out what was happening. I had to take them down and put them on the tree instead...way up high.

Today is many cloudy days so far this season. I need to mail a package and do some errands. 

Have a nice day...doing something special,

Just added this picture. Our little great grand making gingerbread.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Time Out in December

A chilly, damp afternoon and I had plans. It was a day to visit my friend Elizabeth. I've written about her so many times, that I think you must all know her. Yesterday, she met me at the door looking so pretty. Still very fashionable and takes such care with her appearance. She had beige slacks with a belt, a darker shade sweater underneath  this animal print top. She always comes to the door with her pups Bello, and Foxy. They all three make me feel welcome. A fire was lit in the fireplace and we sat for a while...visiting before we had tea. She prepared the tea and we carried it over to the table by the window. Looking around, I saw Christmas decorations. Not too much....just enough. I had made a key lime pie and we shared a couple of pieces. Tea with her little pitcher of rum to splash good. It made a simple cup of tea festive. When we were finished, we went back to the fire and Bello jumped up in  my lap....Foxy in her bed near our feet while Elizabeth knitted a prayer shawl for Church. She is such an active lady...working on projects for our Church. She helped with the Advent decorating, and Father asked her to help with a cookbook project he's starting. She shops occasionally, gets pictures from family on her IPad, listens to music, watches sports, and takes loving care of her pups.

I asked permission to take the picture and she laughed and said, "Of course." She then showed me a picture of her in a Mexican hat and serape on her birthday this year. You might know that this "hip lady" showed me the picture on her IPad from Facebook. 

As we continued visiting, I told her about my life and how stressful it has been with my fall cleanup in the yard, getting ready for Thanksgiving and now Christmas preparations. I said this to her, "Everyone should have an Elizabeth in their life." When I am with her a feeling of peace comes over me...she always makes me feel comfortable. A visit with her was just the thing to do yesterday.... to make me realize how important it is to keep busy as I age...and know when to relax and just enjoy life. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rum Balls and Plans for Today

Yesterday Christmas preparations continued here at my house. I wanted to make some rum balls...just a few...for my cookie tray this year. A daughter in law loves is the recipe.

Melt 1 cup of choc. chips in the microwave. While melting, crush a box of vanilla wafers in the food processor, then chop a cup of walnuts finely. Set these aside. Add 3 tbs corn sirup, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 c rum to the choc chips. Stir in 1/2 c powd. sugar. Add the crumbs and nuts. If mixture is stiff enough to roll into so. If not, put in the fridge to harden a bit. Roll into tsp sized balls and then roll into chocolate sprinkles. These need to rest in the fridge for a week or so. If you eat them right away...the rum is too strong tasting. If let to rest, it becomes more mellow. 

We had a Holy Day yesterday and went to Mass last night. Christmas officially started for me last night. The music was so beautiful...honoring our Blessed Mother. People coming in late really missed a treat. Our little Church has some wonderful musicians and last night 4 of them, with blended voices, sounded like angels. 

Today is special. I will visit Elizabeth and her two pups. I am really looking forward to our visit. I baked a key lime pie to take over and I can imagine eating it in front of her fireplace....with the pups sitting at each of our feet. 

I have several things to do before I leave, so have a wonderful day today.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Why Do You Try New Recipes, When Your Old Ones Are So Good?

Do you have old recipes that are special to you? Do you get them out once in a while and just touch them? I have so many old recipes in boxes, books, tablets, written on napkins from restaurants, copied as Mom listened to WRMN, recipes that she kept from her mom and her grandma and great grandma.....and now they are mine.....and I treasure them. I love to see how the handwriting of each woman has similarities. I love the old "good" ones that are spattered with the ingredients of the recipe. My grandma always wrote her recipes on a stenographer's... (spiral at the top)... pad. She never used a recipe card. I can see her today, jotting down a recipe from a friend over the phone. Her "Church ladies" were all good cooks. Grandma sang in the 1st Methodist Church Choir and the ladies were multi talented..... beautiful musicians and wonderful cooks. Mom came by her talent in the kitchen easily. Her mother could make a meal out of leftovers like no one else. Mom could too. I asked her many times...."Why do you try new recipes when your old ones are so good?" My Dad was the apple of her eye...she just wanted to please him with beautiful food. 
This time of year brings back so many memories of my Mom in the kitchen. There she would be in her apron with pockets. No music playing but WRMN might be playing on the radio. The recipe she called them. Oh, wouldn't she love the food channel on TV? There would be a counter full of flour, sugar, butter, spices, nuts, dried fruits, chocolate etc. New cookies would be tried and if they didn't suit her...they were never to be made again. For a woman who didn't like to make cookies in her early years, she made so many in her later years. Two of her favorites that come to mind are Luscious Lumps....a cookie with mini chocolate chips that has cornstarch as one of it's ingredients, and Skillet cookies...a sticky date and nut filled creation. I don't remember her making fussy cookies that required rolling out...she was more of an earthy woman in the kitchen...enjoying the ones that you could put together easily and turned out delicious. 
I miss her most at this time of year. Every time I get a holiday recipe out, I think of her. I have followed in her trying new recipes. I think of my question to her that could apply to me now, "Why do you try new recipes, when your old ones are so good?"

Sunday, December 7, 2014

No, This Isn't Santa's Workshop

I woke early yesterday and started wrapping gifts. We have a blended there are lots of gifts to be wrapped. Thankyou, thankyou.... for gift bags and tissue paper. It took this Elf four and a half hours to wrap all of this. We give gift cards and money to many, but there are some who love to open a present...especially picked out for them. I try to listen during the what people are interested in.....getting a feeling for what they would like for a present. We have several little ones and they love to rip into a present and be surprised. Our littlest angel this year is growing so fast....hard to believe that next year she will be joining in and opening her own gifts.
Our Christmas plans are made and with Mother Nature's help...we will fill the days ahead with lots of fun. 
Today started with frosting some cookies. I don't know what we are going to do later on. We went to Mass last night, so our day is free. 

Have a nice day today,

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Friday in December

A chilly morning...with lots to do. Joe on his way to put wreaths on graves of family members and I am off to go shopping;
Waiting in line for half an hour at the dollar store made me change my plans to go further to bigger grocery. I'll shop in town at our smaller store.
Several people asked if they could help me today....did I look tired or that I needed help...I wonder?
The grocery busy with people stocking shelves. I asked if this is their normal day to do this and was's Christmas and everyone in town is baking.
I decided to give some coffee mugs filled with candies instead of baking so many cookies. So many candies are wrapped in pretty foil papers...those and a wrap of see through cellophane, tied with a bright ribbon will be pretty. I looked closely at the candies and found that many are chocolate flavored....not what I wanted. I splurged and got the Godiva truffles and some other good chocolates. So many chocolates are filled with corn syrup and not real chocolate. I guess you have to read the labels on candies too.
My car trunk was full...oh how I wished that Joe was home. I unloaded the trunk and put the things on the counter and table. Before I put things away, I sat in the dining room and turned on my radio to Christmas music and filled the coffee cups with the chocolates. They look so pretty.
Putting the canned goods away, I straightened the shelves a bit. The shelves and fridge are full now. I put together a pot of clam chowder for us for dinner today. A couple cans of clam chowder, a couple cans of minced clams, one can of half and half, some lemon pepper, parsley, shredded cheddar, and a good splash of cream sherry. I toasted some croutons and fried some bacon to crumble on top. Joe called and asked if I had eaten just after I finished a bowl of soup. He didn't want he went for a fish fry. He doesn't know what he missed.
I sat with the candles burning, the tree lit, and watched the movie The Moon is Blue. An old movie that Mom and I saw on a trip to Chicago years ago. I was a young teen and this "risque" movie was just out.... and Mom let me see it. William Holden and David Niven were among the stars.
The day is about over and I am tired. If I looked tired in town this morning....I sure feel it now.
Have a nice evening,

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Critter Tree and Some Deliciousness

 Here's my little woodland tree. I worked on the decorations for this for 1 year. I sat with my felt basket and scissors and crafted these little creatures every month. I think it turned out pretty well and since I already had the wasn't very costly. I wondered if I would miss working on these, but I really haven't since I've been so busy getting ready for Thanksgiving and now Christmas. After the holidays, I'm going to start crafting a few for bingo prizes for Neighbors Rehab here in town. Maybe keeping with the valentine theme.

The little tree is in our breakfast nook along with other natural things. It has all white lights. I was going to string popcorn and cranberries to drape on it, but didn't get the time to do that. 

We went to the pool today. Instead of being the only ones there...the pool was filled with people.....made us appreciate the times we have had when it was just a few people. 

I just put stuffed peppers in the oven and they will be ready in about an hour. After dinner, I have errands to run, so it's going to be a busy day. 

Yesterday, Joe was gone and I tried something me at least. Lean Cuisine Salad Additions. I tried the chicken and cranberry one. I really enjoyed it. The salad fixins come in plastic bags that you micro wave...the salad dressing can be thawed easily and to top it off...there are little crispy things in another bag. You simply put your greens on a plate and top with the warmed chicken mixture. Drizzle  a bit of raspberry vinaigrette  and top with croutons. Yum! There are several different kinds. I'll be trying some of them. 

Well, I had better be going...a lot to do.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Christmas Story

Christmas is coming and our house tells the story. The porch is decorated and most of the decorating is done inside. We cut way back this year and I find that the simple things are better. The stress level is lower.
I took the things over to Church yesterday and on the way home, I took my big turkey to the store...and had it cut in half. Now, it won't be such a struggle to fix it. I may have an idea or two about fixing these two halves. Joe is pretty much a traditionalist about turkey and doesn't take to new ideas. So, one half fixed his way and one half my way.
I thought that I may go back and repeat a story from my old blog several years ago. I hope you like it.

It all began at Christmas time 2007. The cozy cottage in the woods was busy preparing for Christmas. The mixer was whirring, flour was stirring, and cinnamon was in the air. Laddie was doing the Laddie dance.The woman of the house was in a tizzy getting ready for Christmas guests. The man of the house said, "Take your time...we are old and can't do as much as we did in the past." He decided to entertain her with music for the season. The sweets were laid out on the lace covered table... in hopes that visitors would come to their door. It was a cold, icy and miserable winter and no one came to their door. On Christmas Eve the couple got into their vanilla colored sleigh and went over the river to the little Church in the nearby village. A manger was in the Church yard. The snow was colored with the reflection of the stained glass windows. Upon entering the couple saw that the Church was filled... but silent. They found their seats and knelt in the stillness. They were surrounded with the nativity, candles, the Christmas story and being a small Church, a choir of a few people. The choir sounded like a choir of angels singing "Oh, Holy Night" When the Mass was ended, they bid goodbye and Merry Christmas to their back in the vanilla colored sleigh and went over the river to their cozy cottage in the woods. After taking off their warm clothes at the door,they noticed the lace covered table out of the corner of their eyes. The cookies were gone. Had the visitors come while they were gone? Laddie was doing the Laddie dance. The couple figured that Laddie had helped being Christmas Eve, no scolding was done.

Their life went on throughout the rest of the winter and then spring, summer and fall. They did their chores, gardening, singing, painting, and shopping. It was soon the Christmas season again. The man of the house said, "Remember last year...don't wear yourself out with all the preparations." Soon the mixer was mixing, flour was stirring and cinnamon was in the air and Laddie was doing the Laddie dance. A delivery truck came down the drive. The man of the house went to answer the door. A beautiful package was handed to him. In Christmas paper and a huge red bow. The couple opened it with excitement...after removing crinkly tissue, they saw a wonderful gingerbread house at the bottom of the box. The package was sent by a daughter, who lived far away. There were tears in their eyes and Laddie did the Laddie dance. The gingerbread house was placed "waaaaay " back on the kitchen counter. Remember what happened to those cookies? It was night and time for bed. The couple got into their cozy, down filled, bed and leaving the blinds open (so they could watch the snowfall in the morning) settled in for a long winter's nap. They hadn't been in bed long, when they heard a tittering, scrambling, tiny clapping, and joyous sound coming from the far side of the house. They got into their fuzzy slippers and flannel robes and meandered carefully through the house. (the house was lit with nightlights, because they were old and didn't want to fall) When they reached the kitchen lo and behold a party was going on. Tiny, wee mice were scampering around in their flannel robes and fuzzy slippers. They were doing cartwheels, handstands, high fives,and a nibbling sound was coming from inside the tiny house. Laddie was doing the Laddie dance. The couple, very quietly, went back to their cozy bed. After a discussion it was decided that there would be no traps set this winter. The cozy cottage was big enough for all. After Christmas the gingerbread house was taken down to the cellar and placed in a corner, under a table, for the rest of the winter. Both families had a wonderful, peaceful Christmas season that year. Peace and good will to man and mice....and Laddie was found not guilty... and he danced.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Houseplants At Christmas

The geraniums in the window are getting huge. They are reaching out from the garden window and touching my arm. One blossom so far and lots of pretty leaves. I decided that, while I love the doesn't leave me much room for other plants. So, saying that, I cut them back. I don't know about you, but this is hard for me. I feel so badly that the plant has grown so beautifully and whack....the leaves are cut down. I guess as Christopher Robin used to say to Winnie the Pooh...Silly Old Bear.........  Silly Old Balisha.  


Another plant is growing by leaps and bounds....the Red Lion Amaryllis. This started blooming a few days before Thanksgiving. I love the vibrant color. The little poinsettia was a hostess gift from my daughter in law. Pretty little pot with my favorite the cardinal.
The ivy topiary, brought up from the basement is sitting and waiting to be decorated for Christmas. I started this just this past summer and it's coming along nicely. Looking around at all the plants...will we have room for Christmas decorations :) 


The orchids that have been front and center for a couple of months say, "Don't forget us, Balisha." They are sending out lots of buds for new blooms. These were bought at the grocery store during a breast cancer promotion in Oct. What a buy....better than any bouquet for the same amount of money. What flowering plant can you buy... that will last that long and now will last long after Christmas. I think that I have finally found the place for them during the winter. It meant closing off one of our heat vents, but who needs heat when you can have flowers :) Put on another layer of clothes I say.
Finally we come to the creature in the guest room. She needs her own window. This aloe has been in my care for 2 yrs. She started out in a 4 in pot....bought at WalMart. You can see the pot in the picture of the geraniums.....behind Paddington Bear. I never realized how big she was getting. Leaning out of the pot and looking like a giant starfish. She's always been in the south window in the front of the house. I water her when I remember. Maybe a 1/4 cup....just once in a while. I guess that's the secret...don't overdo on the watering. Because she is in a room that we don't use very much....I can neglect her.Poor that she's graced the pages of my blog....I'll pamper her with kindness and maybe even hang an ornament on her long arms :) Then she'll die...I better just leave her alone. 

Now you see the plants that keep me company during the cold months in the house. I give them TLC...tidying them up by removing the dead leaves and dried up blooms. Scratching the surface of their potting soil and adding fresh in the fall. Fertilizing very little. Watering the geraniums every other day...the others less often. Giving them the light that they require....and sharing my life inside. They give me comfort.

Now on to Christmas decorating. We did the front porch yesterday and today will start on the inside. So, let the holidays begin...I have the decorating bug. Just a little this year....just enough to make us happy.