may day baskets…

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As I was swishing through stories of weekend plans, senior pictures and the “like” on my FB feed this morning I ran across this photo {the happiness in this photo is just overwhelming, am I right?} attached to this story, A Forgotten Tradition – May Day Basket on NPR.

First Lady Elenor Roosevelt accepting a May Day Basket 1938- courtesy of The Library of Congress
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt accepting a May Day Basket 1938
- courtesy of The Library of Congress

I stopped because I have several of these baskets in my store, but I was told they were used at funerals not as this lighthearted expression of love.  Apparently, a “suitor” would collect flowers and treats, put them in a basket, hang it on their “sweetheart’s” door after dark on May 1st and “scamper” away.  {I have a hard time visualizing my hubby scampering, but that’s neither here nor there.}  Anyway, the “sweetheart” would then run after the suitor for a kiss.  Awwww.  I’m getting a cavity from all the sweetness.

After a quick search I found these baskets were used for May Day, Weddings and Funerals.  {There’s a joke dying to be made out of that last sentence, but I’m going to let it just slip on by.}  The bottom line, as my dad always says, is these people knew how to upcycle and recycle like nobody’s business and, let’s face it, these baskets are fabulous.  Often the baskets were just pretty cones made out of paper like these

I sold a metal one I had “referb-ed” as an Easter display that was pretty darn cute if I do say so myself, but I figured selling funeral baskets might go over like…well…selling baskets used at funerals so I just kept most of them in the back room.

May Day Baskets  at The Peppered Peony

May Day Baskets
at
The Peppered Peony

Now I’ll be  pulling these out, painting them with Sweet Pickins Milk Paint and adding neat stuff to them asap.  I think they would be a lovely, memorable and meaningful Mother’s Day gift or wedding/baby shower table centerpiece filled with ivy, ranunculus and geraniums or daisies, zinnias and baby’s breath or with little t-shirts, washcloths and socks rolled up to look like flowers like this

I also found this cool DIY on Pollyanna Reinvents that you could use anytime.

I love it’s simple elegance.

Well, this was fun.  Writing a blog post every once in a while might not be too much to ask, I guess.  Let’s do it again soon-

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Where did The Peppered Peony get it’s name…

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Where did The Peppered Peony get it’s name?

I get that question a lot.

It’s nothing very romantic or deep.  I wanted a catchy name that had some alliteration.  I started thinking of things I like.  It wasn’t long until I had a list with the word Peony starred multiple times.

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It’s my  favorite flower by a mile, but the love affair didn’t start until about 14 years ago.  They weren’t my wedding flower, and I hadn’t seen them in anyones yard because no where I’d lived before was very suitable for them.  Then we moved to Missouri, and bought one of my favorite houses.  The lady who owned it before me told me there were 6 Peony bushes planted on the side of the house that she’d gotten for Mother’s Day every year, and she couldn’t take them with her but wanted me to know they were special.

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And boy were they ever!  Besides the sentimentality, I instantly fell head over heels a few months later when spring finally showed up.  Pale Pink, white, fuchsia, single bloom and double.  There were so many blooms!  I was constantly cutting those ant covered treasures filling vases in every room.  My house smelled like the perfume section of the flagship Sephora store on the Champs Elysees.  No matter that you almost choked when you walked in the door, I looked forward to those bushes blooming every year like I looked forward to Christmas.

Then we moved.  And moved again.  And again. And again.  None of my next 4 homes had Peonies, and even though I really loved 2 of those places, I was always wishing  for my own Peonies.  I looked all over the Rhineland Pfalz in Germany to plant a couple in my rental house yard, but everyone thought I was nuts.  “Pee -o-neeees?  No. No.  I have never heard of such as these.” (I hope you read that in your best German accent.)

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When we finally moved into our present home the previous owner casually mentioned she had 6 Peony bushes.  They didn’t have the same significance to her as a mother’s day gift, but they did to me!!  I was so excited and couldn’t wait the 10 months until I got to see those fluffy, fragrant blooms.  I didn’t even know what color they were, but it didn’t matter.  I was going to be the proud adoptive mother of 6 Peony bushes!

 

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I have since added 6 more bushes, and this is the first year those persnickety little suckers have produced blooms, but it was worth the wait.  I have plans in the back of my mind to plant a bunch more, but I am content today with these beauties.  I can smell their loveliness when I sit on my screened in porch so I don’t bother cutting many of them for inside.  I’m sure John is grateful for that.

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As far as the Peppered part goes…well, I mentioned I wanted alliteration, and I thought of all kinds of adjectives that started with P.  Purple.  Pale.  Periwinkle.  Pink.  Perky.  Pensive.  Peculiar.  Then popped out Peppered, and when I said it out loud both John and I stopped and stared at each other because we just knew it was perfect.  I’d love to say my hubby thought it fit due to my love of black and white, but when I mention that he laughs.  We all really know it’s because I have a spicy temper, but whatever.  It still fits perfectly.

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TPP’s First Trunk Show…

This is sooo exciting.  I’ve had quite a lot of fun at my shows selling all my goodies, but most of my local friends haven’t been able to see what I’m up to much less buy any of my treasures unless they use stop by or ask me to find something for them.  Because of this I came up with a really fun solution.  It’ll kinda be part part, part hang out on the screened in porch & part sale.  Best part is everything will be 20% off because I won’t be paying for a booth or gas or hotel or any of that other mess.

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Can’t wait!

Until then I will be posting photos of different pieces that will be available.  I also hope to get that silly shop set up so you other friends don’t have to miss out.

 

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Putting my home on a diet…

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This house is going on a diet!

I know.  I know.  I’m not supposed to say diet.  I’m supposed to say lifestyle change, but who am I kidding.  I’ll be really good for a few weeks, and then, BAM! I walk into Target, pull a pile of catalogs out of my mailbox or pick up some great stuff at an auction that always comes with boxes of other stuff I think I may or may not be able to use.  I usually have plenty of regret later when I have piles of stuff everywhere or realize I bought this exact same turquoise cardigan the year before.

Yeah, these are basically the same sweater.  One is more greenish, but it's not noticeable enough to own them both.  We live an hour from Target so I kinda had to keep it.

Yeah, these are basically the same sweater. One is more greenish, but it’s not noticeable enough to own them both. We live an hour from Target so I kinda had to keep it.

However, I stumbled across this little challenge the other day while I was wasting time on  reading FB.  I wrote this last year about wanting to get rid of a bunch of weight, and I did, but not enough.  I clicked over to the blog White House Black Shutters (appropriate don’t you think?), and this getting rid of a bag of stuff each and every day for 40 days sounded pretty darn good.  *Best part is it doesn’t have to be 40 huge trash bags like in the photo.    It’s more of an idea.  You can throw out grocery bagfuls or multiple lawn and leaf bags, you choose.*  I plan to have a garage sale in June anyway so this will help me stay on track with it.

So 40 Bags in 40 Days it is.

The blogger, Anne Marie has it all set out for you.  She has a chart you can print out.  Here’s mine.

My 40 Bags in 40 Days Progerss Chart

My 40 Bags in 40 Days Progerss Chart

I know it looks like I just rushed over and filled it all out a few minutes ago. I did.  That is, I re-wrote it because it was partially written in marker which I, let alone anyone else, could hardly read so I reprinted this and started fresh just for you.  I decided to start this on the day she has printed on the chart, March 5th.  She also has one another chart with the date spaces blanked that way you can start whenever you want or do it longer than 40 days.  If you can do that, you may be a hoarder.  Just saying.

She also has suggestions for different places to look, “non-stuff” to declutter like your phone’s photos, Pinterest boards and e-mail in-box and different places for you to dispose of your stuff if you don’t feel right just trashing it.  I don’t, hence the garage sale.  Some of it is still good stuff.  I still like it.  I might need to keep…just kidding.  I’m trying to save stuff I might want to put in the garage sale until later in the challenge because then I won’t have to store it so long.  By the end I’m hoping I’ll feel this desperate need to finish filling in that chart that it will spur me on to get rid of any stuff I’m hedging on.

There is even a support group page on FB and a group on Instagram.  That’s not my thing today, but never say never.  Who knows how behind I’ll be in a week or 2 making me feel guilty and in need of some inspiring words.

Have you ever thought about doing something like this? Let me know if you decide to do this one, and maybe we can commiserate.

Have a great day-

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How to get dishes that really sparkle…

This is going to be a short and sweet post.

I have been asked a ton how I get my glassware so sparkly.

The Peppered Peony

The Peppered Peony

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The Peppered Peony – How to Get Sparkly Dishes

Here’s the secret…

Ready…

The Magic Combo

The Magic Combo

Yep.  That’s it.  Great Value Dishwasher Powder and Vinegar.

I used to use the little dishwasher packs.  I tried them all, and nothing very spectacular happened.  Then one day  I  ran out of those little suckers.  The people who loaded and ran the dishwasher every night hadn’t bothered to tell me we were running low on them, and I was in a bit of a hurry, you know, like usual, so I couldn’t run to the store.

The lightbulb moment – I remembered we had this powder under the sink from when I decided to use it in a window washing recipe I found on Pinterest.  Didn’t I have tons left over because it didn’t take much and after using it once I remembered I hate washing windows?  Didn’t I just read a review of dishwasher detergents and this one came out #1?  Aren’t I trying to use up the stuff we already own to save money and clear out some clutter?

Even if I hated this stuff trying it could kill 4 birds with one stone…Saving time, saving  money, de-cluttering and most importantly getting the dishes washed without me having to stop what I was in the middle of to run to the store.

I have used vinegar in my rinse aid compartment for a long time.  We have fairly hard water, and even though we have a water softener I knew using vinegar would help with any left over mineral deposits.  Besides, it’s cheap, and I always have a ton of it.

After the first load of dishes I was shocked.  Then I ran through a load of those grimy mason jars I pick up at auctions.  Same result.  I’m completely sold on this now so I’ll be going old school with the powder and vinegar from now on.  By the way, did you notice the top of the box was pulled up?  That’s because my son didn’t know to pull out the spout on the side the first time he used it.  Talk about generation gap.

The Peppered Peony

The Peppered Peony

My other secret is putting Christmas lights under them, but that wouldn’t work so well if they weren’t this sparkly to begin with.

*Now keep in mind if I get a glass or jar with really heavy build up on it I usually soak it in CLR or LimeAway for a few minutes first, but for everyday cleaning you can’t beat this combo.

Have a great day-

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How to decorate (for the DIY’er) series…

I was going to post a recipe today, but I’m actually really excited about this Pin from Home Stories A to Z.  I added to my Advice Column Board on Pinterest.

It’s been out a while, but still has some really good tips in a series from a lot of great DIY/Decorating/Organizing/Re-Purpousing blogs like House of Smiths, Tatertots and Jello and Beneath My Heart.  I’ve actually done quite a few DIY’s from Centsational Girl and  Southern Hospitality.  Miss Mustard Seed is my favorite right now though because I’m working on slipcovers, one of her specialties.  I use the word meaning I’m sewing piping, and my friend, Kim from K.Mae Designs, is sewing the slipcovers.

**The Nester has a special place in my heart because is the first decorating blog I ever looked at with any interest.  That took me to Jones Design Company, which is where I took the blog class, which is how The Peppered Peony came to be.**

Anyway, I like that this entire series is all in one place right here so I can find it when I have an extra minute or two while I’m waiting to pick someone up from piano or for a band concert to start or for dinner to finish up.

Wow!  That was short and sweet for a change!  Have a great day!

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Where to start…

Just another day in paradise...

Just another day in paradise…

As I sit here typing, I realize I’m listening to my daughter in the basement singing to some song I can’t hear because she has earbuds in while she sands and primes the boards and beadboard we are putting on her “new” bathroom ceiling tonight.  I’m simultaneously listening to my son up in Avery’s “new” room singing his little heart out (and even occasionally replaying songs to learn the lyrics better) to some very loud Weird Al Yankovic while he finds the studs in the walls with a device emitting constant and EAR SPLITTING beeps.  I’m smelling something spicy cooking in the ole Ninja Cooker, and still wearing my p.j.s at 2:55 in the afternoon.

This is from last week or the week before or the one before.  Who knows?  It's all the same loooong snow day anymore.

This is from last week or the week before or the one before. Who knows? It’s all the same loooong snow day anymore.

Yep, it’s another snow day.  Yep, it’s March 3rd.   The kids have only gone to school 1 Monday in the last 5.  Yep, this is getting old.

I love my kids, I really do, and they are obviously not just sitting around complaining about being bored, but they’ve stayed home from school a lot this winter when they weren’t supposed to be here (along with probably 90% of the rest of America’s school aged children…I bet liquor companies are making a killing from parents spending entirely too much time with their off spring on these “school days”).  It’s put me even further behind on a million projects.  Right now, I have 3 blog posts half written and a ton of photos taken but not edited on projects I’m “working” on, and all of my rooms are either piled with boxes of stuff I’m selling or taking to a show or “putting on easy”, or they are draped in fabrics with sewing machines and thread and scrapes on just about every horizontal surface, or they are just suffering from my lack of motivation time to clean them.

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So anyway, I thought I’d start with something that I’ve managed to finish up…the 2 Friends and Junk show The Peppered Peony took part in in Joplin.  It was the first time I’d done a show like this where it’s all about selling good ole repurposed junk.  More importantly, it was an opportunity to get out of the house I had been trapped in for months, and my kids weren’t going coming with us.  Instead, my mom and aunt drove up from TX to help and keep us company.  Sweet.  Grown ups.

The Wednesday night before show weekend, John and I worked like crazy packing up our car and the trailer we’d borrowed trying, not completely successfully, to beat a huge system of rain blowing in on super gusty winds and bringing those hideous winter temps back after a much, much too short reprieve.

Thursday, we packed up the last of the boxes and suitcases, and I felt like maybe I had things under control.  We pulled out of the driveway at noon only to pull back in at 12:10 because, of all the crap I had put in that trailer, I hadn’t put in a chair for ME to sit in while I cashiered or just needed to take a load off.  Trust me, my mom and aunt were glad I turned that car around.  My confidence started to crack a bit.  I hoped this wasn’t an ominous sign of how the weekend was going to go.

Back on the road again I started thinking of all the things that I’d done to prepare and started to worry that I was deluding myself, but tried to act casual so John wouldn’t suspect I was doubting myself.  The car and trailer were being blown all over the road which just added to my tension.  On the outside I was reading my book, but on the inside my mind was going a million miles an hour while my heart was sinking further into my stomach with swerve of the car.  I really had no idea what to expect at 2F&J as  the other show I’d done in December turned out to be the entirely wrong type of show and crowd for my junk chic wares even though the brownies and popcorn flew off the shelf.  Once Avery turned on her inner Granny Jo (my mom – the person who can and has successfully sold just about everything from restaurant supplies, to makeup to funeral plans – Her motto: I know you’re glad to see me because you have been needing what I have), I adjusted course and was able to accept my error in judgement.  More on that craft show another time.  I’ll just say Avery hasn’t ever met a stranger or anyone who wouldn’t benefit from buying one of my decadent brownies or gourmet popcorn.

My really cool booth at the Christmas Craft Show that was a great backdrop for selling brownies and popcorn.

My really cool booth at the Christmas Craft Show that was a great backdrop for selling brownies and popcorn.

Anyway, we were pulling into the parking lot of the convention center when we saw these ladies standing by their van waving their arms looking panicked.  We stopped only to find that they had hit the dip on the way in a little quick, and their completely full trailer had popped off the hitch of their van.  These poor girls, who’d driven like 7 hours from Throckmorten, TX in that same punishing wind, were already looking exhausted.  They shivered in their quickly tossed on and wholly inadequate sweatshirts in the 20 degree temps with 30mph winds howling in their faces.  Of course we were going to stop, but I wasn’t sure what we could do.  There was a flurry of talk about getting a jack put under the trailer when John just walked over, straddled the van’s hitch, picked the trailer’s hitch up and pulled it onto the ball again.  I think if I hadn’t been there those girl’s from Joli Jonque would have kissed him.  The guys who’d showed up before us who’d just been standing there with their hands on their hips would have liked to have punched him out for making it look so easy to fix it while they did nothing.  The girls kept saying thank you until I finally said, “No.  Thank you because now we have something to laugh about the rest of the afternoon.  This was hilarious!” So sorry I don’t have a picture of it, but that might have been pouring salt into the wound.  They were already being good sports laughing with us, but let’s not push it.

So back in the car we went for the short block or so to the unloading area. We we’re one of the first to check in, and as soon as I saw the super cool entrance decorated with old couches and a corrugated tin roof (no photos here either, just too overwhelmed), the RV dress shop parked INSIDE  in addition to meeting the JJ girls, I knew I was in the right spot.  I knew this was going to be my crowd.  I knew everything was going to fall into place.  Confidence restored.

Are you kidding me?  Adorable!

Are you kidding me? Adorable!

The clean slate...

The clean slate…

In the creative zone...

In the creative zone…

The mostly finished product...

The mostly finished product…

Even if I didn’t sell a thing, I was excited because I knew going to learn a lot from these other “junk-tique”vendors.

 

These were my neighbors (and new friends) from Junk Trunk Antiques and Alley Katz Antique Emporium.  And no, I didn't get one of those awesome crowns, but I'm sure enough getting one from them later.

These were my neighbors (and new friends) from Junk Trunk Antiques and Alley Katz Antique Emporium. And no, I didn’t get one of those awesome crowns, but I’m sure enough getting one from them later.

Sorry for the terrible lighting in this picture.  It's the only one I have of the front of this totally cool booth, and I simply had to share it.  @ Friends and Junk - Joplin

Sorry for the terrible lighting in this picture. It’s the only one I have of the front of this totally cool booth, and I simply had to share it. 2 Friends and Junk – Joplin

 

A couple of the girl's from Joli Jonque

A couple of the girl’s from Joli Jonque at the 2 Friends and Junk show Joplin

 

Even my tiny little booth made it onto their FB page which is a biggish deal since they had 165 vendors.

Even my tiny little booth made it onto the 2F&J FB page which is a biggish deal to me since they had 165 vendors and this was my first “real” show..

There were also other vendors there selling new products, clothes, toys and such, but the majority were in the business of selling my favorite kind of stuff, rusty, farmhouse, shabby chic goodies.

Probably my favorite shop was Tarnished Charm .  I liked everything about it including it’s darling owner, Ivy.  She so talented, and really sweet.  She takes vintage jewelry and makes it into really fabulous new pieces.  If you click on the link to her FB page and scroll down to Jan 28-ish, you may or may not see the present I may or may not be getting for Mother’s Day.  Wink, Wink.

Saturday morning rolled around, and the line to enter was out the door.  Woohoo!  We were pretty busy that first morning, but slowed way down  after that.  The traffic flow wasn’t quite as heavy as we expected, and the customers weren’t quite as into decorating as I’d hoped, but I really did learn a lot.  I  also had a very good and relaxing time with John, mom and Carolyn Sue which I needed more than I knew.  I also made  some new friends and even managed to walk out of there with a neat, if  little, profit after all the expenses were paid.  I even got invited to another show with a different company after it was over.

This was one of my favorite moments.  This was the sweetest family.  The great grandmother hugging her great granddaughter to her so tightly while she shopped with her granddaughter.  The granddaughter never gave a hint she was at all worried about her grandmother's strength holding out.  They were all just enjoying each other.  What a treat.

This was one of my favorite moments. This was the sweetest family. The great grandmother hugging her great granddaughter to her so tightly while she shopped with her granddaughter. The granddaughter never gave a hint she was at all worried about her grandmother’s strength holding out. They were all just enjoying each other. What a treat.

When it was all said and done and packed away, we finally agreed to a place for our final dinner together***(inside joke for my mom – J and I actually almost got into a knock down drag out over finding a place to eat that we all wanted and that didn’t have a 45 min wait).  It was National Margarita day so we celebrated it and our successful show accordingly at El Vaquero and indulged in a really excellent meal.  I’m just sorry John’s meal was so paltry since he was trying to eat light.

LOL John!  BTW…the baby in the background was soooo cute.  She was feeding another baby he same age.

LOL John! BTW…the baby in the background was soooo cute. She was feeding another baby he same age.  Proof I guess that girls try to control boys eating habit from th beginning I guess.  He didn’t seem to mind though.

 

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***I wrote this yesterday, but didn’t publish it because I had to stop to talk to my hubby who was in a bit of a mood when he got home, finish dinner, serve dinner and eat with my family, clean up, learn how to use our new paint sprayer from a still crabby hubby, paint the stuff Avery primes in this post, clean out said sprayer for what seemed like an eternity, have a little fuss with hubby who let me know my paint job was a mess, fixing said paint job as well as I could, cleaning the paint brush I used to fix while listening to hubby tell me why his day was not very good (which certainly helped how I looked at his mood), changed out of the paint covered clothes and pinned the hem of Avery’s concert dress for her band performance tonight so she could put in a new temp hem (that girl has got to stop growing!) before I got to sit back down at the computer.  THIS is why the blog doesn’t get written regularly, and I didn’t even have to take anyone anywhere all night.  John did.  I guess it’s a good thing my book club got postponed.

 

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So I’m Not Special…

Apparently from the comments on FB, my recent phone calls and texts and pretty much all conversations I’ve had with pretty much anyone since my last post, I am not alone in my disappointment this holiday season. Everyone seems out of sorts. Almost no one has it together this Christmas.  I’m not special.

I can’t decide how I feel about that because I like being special and I wish everyone was having a joyous time this  holiday season, but I also like that it’s not just me. Proof that maybe I’m not totally crazy.

I did manage to buy almost all of my gifts this weekend, watched my kids perform in the first of 4 musical concerts (1st handbell performance – check), and we did all that stuff I said we were going to last week.

Honestly, that night didn’t go as well as I had hoped because even though my family initially sounded excited about it, there was still a lot of fussing and snapping (not by me this time!).  I kept reminding them over and over we were going to be happy and celebratory, and eventually they all came around.  I’ve checked puzzle, The Grinch and egg nog off the list now.

As you can see I’m really enjoying it all because I’m checking it off of some imaginary list. Isn’t that how everyone enjoys things? (I’m using sarcasm font here, but you just can’t see it.)  I’m still feeling half hearted and rushed, and apparently I’m not alone.

Something worth being excited about.  Isn't this sunset beautiful?

Something worth being excited about. Isn’t this sunset beautiful?

Anyway, I thought I’d post links to some of the yummy crock meals I’ve made the last few days while I’ve been in a rush that have been just heaven to come home to.  They are not disappointing at all.

This is what we ate tonight, Irish Beef and Stout Stew.  It’s from Martha so there shouldn’t be much doubt that it’s yummy.  However, sometimes her stuff can be complicated.  Fear not.  it’s a cinch.  I added carrots.  I also cooked mine in my Ninja 3-in-1 cooking system so it took a little less time.  I love that sucker!

Image courtesy of marthastewart.com - Martha Stewart's Irish Beef and Stout Stew

Image courtesy of marthastewart.com – Martha Stewart’s Irish Beef and Stout Stew

This is one of our favorites, Crock Pot Chicken Chili.  We serve it with Fritos like they do on the blog Our Little World.  Gina serves hers with cilantro on rice.  The Fritos way is less skinny, but tastes way better.

Image courtesy of Our Little World - Crock Pot Chicken Chili

Image courtesy of Our Little World – Crock Pot Chicken Chili

This one was a huge hit with my hubby and kids, Chicken and Corn Chowder.  It’s pretty fast too.

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Image courtesy of Our Little World

Lastly,  these Crock Pot Cabbage Rolls I found on The Nummy Little Blog take a little longer, but are totally worth it.

Image courtesy of The Nummy Little Blog - Crock Pot Cabbage Rolls

Image courtesy of The Nummy Little Blog – Crock Pot Cabbage Rolls

All of these are excellent on cold winter nights when you need a little comfort, and will leave you satisfied even on the days you’re just checking things off the list.

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There is Something Wrong Here…

Brittany Catts liked this post
The pathetic attempt to replace our living room tree.

The pathetic attempt to replace our living room tree.

This year it hasn’t felt much like Christmas around here.

We just got a couple of small trees put up. We haven’t put a single light or wreath in front of our house.  There is no Santa collection meticulously displayed, no present waiting for our mail carrier, no time to ring the bell for Salvation Army.   The advent calendar is sitting in a heap in the upstairs office chair.  I’ve only bought 1 stocking stuffer (socks for Joe) and ZERO, that’s right, ZERO real gifts. We haven’t watched any Christmas movies (unless you count Joe and I “watching” Christmas Vacation while he was sick and I watched through my eyelids).  We haven’t  put a puzzle together, made cookies, drank eggnog, gone caroling, looked at lights, or gone to any Christmas parties. NOTHING.

This sad stressed out season is a culmination of many of things:

  • Starting a business at a terribly busy time.
  • Having a perpetually involved teenager who doesn’t drive yet.
  • Illness.
  • Throwing away our old living room Christmas tree, and not having time to replace it.
  • The short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • The transmission going out on the car we bought this summer, the dealership run around and taking 2 weeks and counting to get it fixed.
  • Having too many projects and commitments.
  • Our house being a shambles still from remodeling, E-baying and starting The Peppered Peony.
  • Every home maintenance project taking 20 times longer than it should.
  • Being so disappointed that people started shopping on Thanksgiving.
  • Dreading our Thanksgiving plans because 4 days of non stop driving for 2 days with John’s parents sounded just awful especially since I suspect his mother wasn’t really looking forward to us coming, and then the ensuing guilt because I was so selfishly relieved when those plans were canceled knowing how badly he wanted to spend time with his elderly father and how disappointed his dad was we weren’t coming.
  • Then there was the whole fallout over whether or not we should switch our Christmas plans from my family to his.   For the record, we stuck with mine, but no matter which way we went we were going to feel guilty.
  • Hearing several people we really care about are getting divorce, separating or struggling with illness.
  • Trying to be extra frugal while waiting for the airlines to call.
  • Just feeling overwrought, overextended and under-enthused.
Is this really the best we can do this year?  Sadly, it seems so.

Is this really the best we can do this year? Sadly, it seems so.

 

The general mood around here is instead kinda Scrooge-ish:

  • Groundings over grades or the dreaded “L” word (lying for those of you with sweet babies under 10 who “would never”…).
  • Fights over “Stop rolling your eyes at me!” “I wasn’t.  Stop thinking everything anyone ever does is trying to offend you.” “Stop all the sighing with haughty derision!  I’m not an idiot!” (I wish I could say these were comments our immature teens were spouting off, but that would be the dreaded “L” word.)
  • Lamenting over weight while we test another batch of brownies, and then feeling guilt upon guilt.
  • Everyone getting in everyone else’s business to tell them how they are doing it wrong.
  • Grousing about pains in the knees, pains in my hands and feet, pains in the back and actual, not just metaphorical, pains in the neck only made worse by this early onset of arctic weather misery.
  • Just being too tired to do anything and then more guilt upon guilt.  (At this point I end up with insomnia as anyone who’s played Words with Friends with me knows from my 4 a.m. plays).

The one time we listened to Christmas carols while baking brownies John got crabby because they were too loud, and I got frustrated because he played the wrong ones.  That is just plain sad, people.  Sad.

I feel the brunt of the guilt over this disappointing holiday though because my family has always depended on me to set the mood, be on top of things and get the holiday plans in motion, and I have just been too busy and overwhelmed for that.  This is a family who has come to expect rotating trees that coordinate with each room, gifts wrapped to coordinate with specific trees, menus planned and replanned for special guests.   They liked it.  I liked it, and enjoyed the whole process of doing it, but just can’t get there this year.  In the past I think I’ve made it look way too easy by doing so much of it behind the scenes so that now that I’m not doing it no one knows where to start.

***Tonight, that is all changing***

Tonight I’m putting my foot down.

I am not putting anything new  on our calendar before Christmas unless it’s fun, and makes us happy.

Tonight we will eat breakfast for dinner while we watch Elf.  We will drink eggnog and start putting together one of those ornament or Santa puzzles we’ve done like 20 times.  I will read a Christmas book with my kids before they go to bed, and we will hug and snuggle and laugh.

There will be no homework after piano lessons even if they get a zero tomorrow.  There will be no work on any business, updating of airline apps, talk of money, or schedules or that dumb car.

Tonight we choose happiness and family because ultimately it is exactly that, a choice.

Tonight I am taking back my Christmas no matter what any of the rest of them have to say or how the world tries to barge in because it is, I repeat, a choice, and I’m tired of those other choices.  I can see from how my family is getting along they are tired of those choices too.  Tomorrow we can go back to rushing and schedules, but tonight and  the 2 other “white square” nights we have on our calendar before Christmas, we are going to choose to celebrate and be happy with each other.

Am I the only one here who feels like this holiday is off kilter somehow?  I doubt it.

If you feel that way too, I hope you remember you get to choose happiness.  You decide what’s important, money, the calendar and others expectations or finding the corner piece of the puzzle, endlessly repeating lines from Elf and The Grinch or belting out carols while you and your family sit in your car outside someone else’s house like stalkers marveling at their lights and blow up Santas.

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you`ll look back and realize they were the big things.” – Kurt Vonnegut

 

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Listening is an Act of Love…

listeningfullview Whilst trying to jot down today’s “must do” list, I also had half an eye on my FB news.  Something grabbed my attention that I would love to share with you.

StoryCorps is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.  What’s Story Corps?  I’m glad you asked.

On StoryCorps’ about page I found this:

About Us

“StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.

Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 45,000 interviews with nearly 90,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and on our Listen pages.

We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, strengthen and build the connections between people, teach the value of listening, and weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that every life matters. At the same time, we will create an invaluable archive of American voices and wisdom for future generations.

In the coming years we will build StoryCorps into an enduring institution that will touch the lives of every American family.”

listening closeup To me and millions of my fellow listeners it’s an opportunity to cry on Friday mornings, but in a good way.

I love listening and I even own one of their books, Listening is an Act of Love which I took great pleasure in reading and plan to share with Avery this year.  I’ll probably buy their new book Ties that Bind too, but nothing compares to actually hearing these people’s voices.  Just regular everyday people we pass on the street, sharing their stories in a back and forth conversation.  Stories from The Great Depression, Nazi Germany, 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina to being present when their mother passed away, the grief after a daughter was murdered during a home invasion and a story of a teacher who changed a man’s perspective with a very small gift are intermingled with many other stories of heroism, anger, love and loyalty.

I know a lot of you are thinking, “April is lots of things, but sentimental isn’t one of them.”  That’s true to a great extent, but this is one of my sentimental indulgences like watching Beaches or The Notebook or Marley and Me.

I’ve put recording a story with someone at StoryCorps on my bucket list.  I can’t decide who I would want to record with, probably my mom, but oh how I wish I had been able to do this with my Aunt Beverly before she passed.  I know a lot of her stories, but to be able to hear her voice telling them again would be pure bliss.   Gulp.  Sniff.  Sniff.  Anyway…they travel from city to city facilitating and recording these moving stories, and someday I hope they will be close enough for me to be part of this wonderful project.

Until then I’ll just keep listening.  It is worth your time to listen too, and you don’t have to wait until Friday mornings.  You can go to StoryCorps.org anytime for a listen.  Just try not to do it in public…or without Kleenex…or at least a bag of Oreos.

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