Friday, July 27, 2007

Taking A Trip!

Oh wow, am I ever excited! I will be leaving in the a.m. for a few days away from work, home, and everything. Not sure where the road will lead us . . . but you can be certain that I will be taking as many neat pictures as I can.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Updates and Ava Grace

Thought I would give everyone who has emailed me about the last two entries an update.
First of all, my middle son is just FINE. The emphasis on FINE. Young blood and anti ven does wonders against nasty copperheads. He is still sore, but everything is looking better and he feels like himself for the most part.

Another update: My oldest son Paul doesn't realize the full extent of all of your votes, but I DO! Thanks dear ones. This Mommyheart is duly proud of her first born. He is just now back in the states after a trip to Europe, so I am waiting to hear his voice.

Now for Ava Grace and her story . . .

I have a friend who became a grandmother this past February. This child is her first and only granddaughter.
On February 12, 2007, a little Angel was born. Her name is Ava Grace. She was born with Pfeiffer Syndrome which is a genetic disorder ~ it is very rare, and requires many surgeries

The Humble Arts is a group of gals who sell their wonderful handmade goodies and I am proud to call them my friends. We feel blessed to have the opportunity to pull our talents together to help a precious child. We are currently creating angel dolls in honor of Ava Grace. We will be putting angel dolls and other handmade angel items up for auction after Labor Day this September. I ask that you look at these auctions with the eyes of one who knows that . . . "there but by the grace of God, go I." All the proceeds from these auctions will go to help defray some of the expenses of the surgeries.

Here is our angel after several surgeries.

The Humble Arts has had a page about Ava Grace for a few months now and we have been so encouraged and blessed by the emails and outpouring of hearts touched by this little Angel.
Stay tuned for updates!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Good, The Bad and The Painful

Ahhh nature! Summer sunshine, the birds and the bees, the snakes and . . . the did I just say snakes?!

When I arrived home from work this afternoon, I began my usual chores of laundry, sweeping the hardwood floors, etc. My husband and middle son were taking care of the never ending cutting grass and weed eating. On opposite ends of the property. I heard my son calling my name frantically. Knowing that something was wrong I ran out the back and he was bent over at the waist, out of breath. He looked up at me and said, "I think I was bit by a snake. " He had the snake with him. It was dead. I looked at it's triangular head, the definite markings and said quite calmly, "Let's look at your leg." Two nasty puncture wounds already puffy and discolored.

You would be quite proud of me. But then, I have always been the type of person that is calm in the moment of dog bites, rusty nails , spider bites, snake bites. My children have had them all. It is later that I fall to pieces, like right about now.

But at that time a few short hours ago, I carried him to the ER. Even though the hospital was quite busy, one look at the snake in a coffee can and he was ushered right on back. I was amazed at how many sick folk all of a sudden felt good enough to look at a dead snake! Still, a snake is a snake, a strange fascination indeed and that was definitely a copperhead as the doctor confirmed.
He was administered anti venom.

When the kids were little guys we lived in Florida. I was homeschooling them and one of our favorite field trip sites was to Mr. Barrington's nursery. Mr. Barrington was an old man when we met him. In days past he sold orange trees and other citrus trees to the Sears and Roebuck chain. The little guys and I learned all about plants, leaves, chlorophyll, baby rabbits, ducks, snakes, shelf fungi, spiders, you name it, if it was on his land, we would learn about it from this dear old man. His patience and love of children was evident. My oldest son, Paul, (the "professor" today ) got his first science lessons from Mr. Barrington and his nursery. Scooping up ants, some dirt and sticks, we carried them home to make his first ant farm. It was a rather complex thing with aquariam tubing, 2 liter plastic bottles and the original name of Ants in Space.
Well, there I go with the ADD kicking in. I meant to tell you about what we learned about snakes from Mr. Barrington. We learned that copperheads are an aggressive snake when compared to rattlesnakes or cottonmouths. Although they are in the same genus, their venom is not as potent (thank the good Lord) as the other two, their bites are quite painful, can cause tissue damage and other complications. We also learned that most snakes will leave before you ever see them.
We had a snake get in the house once when we lived in Florida. He was pretty, as snakes go, non venomous and we decided to keep him. The kids named him Slick. A good science project, we learned that we didn't like to feed Slick live rodents. The poor things would die of heart failure and the snake wouldn't eat something dead. We found that gold fish made wonderful treats for Slick. When we tired of Slick and moved onto another unit of study, we brought Slick to Mr. Barrington's. Joshua wanted a wolf spider. I was having none of that. A snake was enough for me! We settled on a guinea pig named Butch. I can still hear that little pig call 'weep weep weep' to this day.
The other favored spot for educational fun was Gatorland. Yes, Gatorland, with their Jumping Gatoroo feeding frenzy. Until today, that was the only time we ever saw a copperhead up close and personal.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Blatant Plug - Please Help!

I will probably get a verbal lashing, but here goes: My oldest son Paul has entered a Mr. Wizard contest for science. He has made a video at YOUTUBE which I have embedded here. Once you watch it, could you would you, go and vote for him?

The address to vote for him is at:

Voting is on the right hand navigational and he is about midway down. His name there is:

I have two other exceptional adult children - Paul is the one who lives the furthest away from me. He is an exceptional teacher. I am not modest at all.

so, rah rah, cis boom bah, go vote for Paul (goodguyseatpie)!!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Blue Ribbon Blueberry Muffins

I have had this recipe for so long, I can't remember when I tweaked it to create the muffins that my family drools for. I do know that when I did, I entered the muffins in a county fair back in the day and won a blue ribbon for my efforts. These are easy and quick to make:

Blondie's Blue Ribbon Blueberry Muffins

6 tbsp butter
2/3 cup sugar

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp lemon extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the other ingredients one at a time, blending each one. Add the berries at the last.
Scoop into muffin liners or tin.
Bake at 375 oven for 25-30 minutes until nicely browned.

2 tbsp buttermilk
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon extract
2 1/2 c confectioner sugar
blend all together and spoon over warm muffins. Slurp the rest down with a spoon and a warm cuppa joe.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Peach Pickin' Time In Georgia

sounds so much like my Daddy

Blueberry Time!

Every year when the blueberries start coming in, I start singing an old song my Daddy used to sing"When It's Peach Picking Time in Georgia". I decided to look around the 'net and found this guy - love the way he jazzes it up. He plays guitar very similiar style as my dear Daddy.

So, you now know that the blueberries are ready for picking. Normally on an average day in peak we can pick a gallon a day. It becomes quite a festive time to call friends, tell them to bring a bucket and pick their hearts out. This year due to the poor weather cycle we are discovering that our berries are not as plentiful. We had a hard freeze on Easter while the berries were in bloom. Same for our blackberries. We are getting them picked, just find that they are not as large or as plentiful as past years.

Still, we ate blueberry pancakes for dinner this evening. Yum Yum! I enjoy a breakfast for dinner on occasion, and tonite was great. Nothing is finer than fresh picked anything!

We have two different types of blueberry bushes. We have rabbit eyes and high bush. They stand taller than my hubs and that is right tall. Birds love to nest in them. Robins, mockingbirds (watch out!) and brown thrush have all claimed the blueberries for their residence. Across from the blueberries is a tall cedar that we affectionately call our bird condo. Whoever doesn't get first dibs in on the blueberries nest in that cedar.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Living for today

As I was driving to work early this morning, I was listening to The People's Pharmacy on a regional NPR station. I look forward to this show each Saturday a.m. for the up to date information, interviews and practical advice on health; physical and mental. This morning they were speaking about anti depressants, studies and the over prescribing without follow up metal health professionals. One caller explained that in 1982 she went through a horrible divorce that greatly saddened her. It never occurred to her to call her family doctor and ask for antidepressants. Instead, she journaled. Every day. It took her a good year to get over her experience however she emerged a better person. Now as I was listening, I thought, "Lady, there weren't that many antidepressants back then." Of course, I don't know that. I never heard of them until the 90's "when xanax was the cure all from smoking cessation to having it with a cocktail to relax. Anyhow, it was a great show to listen to and it made me think
about something that has bothered me for a long time. Mind you, it doesn't send me into the doldrums, but still it BUGS me. I betcha it bugs you too!
How many times a day do you find yourself thinking about something that happened way back when or what you are hoping to accomplish tomorrow or next week, or etc. How many times when remembering a situation did you think, "I should have said this" or "I wish I had handled that differently", "My big mouth" blah, blah, blah.

And how much energy is expended upon dreaming of tomorrow? Are you fulfilling today what you dreamt of yesterday, last week, last year?

I don't know what the answer to this is for me or for you, dear reader. I do know that some memories are meant to be shared with generations and then with generations to come. Our past loved ones will always be alive in our memories. When my kids were little I would talk to them about my grandparents. Each one was so exceptional - I was so very blessed to enjoy them and know them for a very long time. Anyway, I would speak of my grands often. One day my daughter who was about 4 said something which really I don't remember. I do remember what one of my boys said to her. He said, "That's what Great Old Grandpa used to say". That sweet memory became a shared memory for two generations.

Most of the time though, our thoughts of yesterdays are filled with regret and self loathing. How many times have you said, "If I knew then what I knew now . . . " I truly do aspire to live each day without offending anyone and by keeping myself on my toes so to speak. In truth, I have only a few major regrets. I can't go back and change them so I am still learning after all these years to forgive myself. It isn't like we are born omniscient! Surely if God forgives me, then I should be able to forgive myself and others. If God can forget, can I? Well, He has given me a brain that is pretty sharp. I think that the memories are so we don't make the same mistakes again? And the future??? I make goals, long range and short range. I do write them down. It helps me to see where I have come from in black and white - on paper -, not in my head where I climb mountains and fight dragons.

So, I guess as much as it bugs me to think on things past, I can funnel those thoughts into something positive that I can do TODAY. I have a tendency to be a dreamer, heads in the clouds, seeing everyone and everything through rose colored glasses. Thank goodness my memory is bad enough to keep me from being a skeptical cynic!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

In all things . . . .Content

I have a perpetual calendar that a friend gave me years ago. You know the kind that stand on their own and have a poem, quote, or whatever for each day? Well, sometimes I forget to keep up with turning the pages - time flies, right?!
In cleaning this afternoon, I saw how delinquent I have been. Gracious! I was still in June! So, turning the pages until I got to July 11, I read that page.
God's love is like a harbor
where our souls can find sweet rest
from the struggle and the tension
of life's fast and futile quest.
Helen Steiner Rice

They were glad when it grew calm
and he guided them to their desired haven
Psalm 107:30 NIV

This is the day to stay calm in each and every situation.

So much is beyond our grasping control. I have no control over people driving vehicles who really have no business with a license! I have no control over serious world matters. I have no control over other's thoughts, dreams, plans, lives ~ yet all of these affect me when it is someone or something that I care about.

I hurt for others, I cry for others, I pray for others ~ their problems become mine if I allow them to. I know myself well enough to know that I cannot stop myself from feeling everything deeply. That is something that God has placed deep within me and is part of who I am. I am a passionate person. I do nothing half way - I go all out or nothing! I enjoy challenges and have been told that I thrive on chaos.

How can I keep my inner being at peace with the turmoil of friends, the war on terror, even stupid drivers? Simple. I do not look to anyone else for full approval. Yes, I like approval - who doesn't. But it is like an aphrodisiac and that is one drug that can be deadly to one's peace of mind.

Since everyone make a choice each day in each arena of their life, I can only pray that they can live in contentment with those choices. I chose years ago to live simply. To not look at myself according to any standard other than my own, the laws of this country and ultimately the law of God as stated in His Holy Word. To be able to live simply, care deeply, find joy in little things and to give everything in between over to a higher authority make me able to state with the Apostle Paul that I find that whatever my circumstance is, I find myself content.

No person can grow without some trouble or revelation through strife. It is when we turn those stumbling blocks into stepping stones - those problems into challenges, that we can feel success.

Then I realized that today is July 12. Well, my name is Blondie after all . . .

Phillipian 4:11

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Holy Zucchini! My kingdom for a Zuke!!!

Last evening after a satisfying rain, Luscious Larry and I went ankle deep in clay mud looking for veggies. Are we nuts or do we just like playing in the mud? The obvious is of course, we are both nuts and kids at heart. Every farmer has to like getting dirty just a wee bit!
Wellsir, after the torrential rain of yesterday, our squash and zucchini have blown up. What do you do with a surplus of fat squash and zukes? I am going to carry some into work today for friends and co workers, along with a tempting taste of Chocolate Zucchini Cake !

Do you think that these green veggies can be turned into something so very tempting, delicious and omg, lip smacking good? To tempt you even more, I am giving you two exceptionally good recipes for the cake. One requires a fancier variation of the old fashioned southern Zuke Cake. Both are moist, tender and require a second piece when no one else is looking!
If you ever see some good looking zukes at a good price, buy them up, shred them and freeze them for great cooking in the winter when you are hankering for a zuke bread or cake!

Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

2 1/2 cups regular all-purpose flour, unsifted
1/2 cup cocoa
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup soft butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Glaze (directions follow)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
1 Combine the four, cocoa, baking powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.
2 With a mixer, beat together the butter and the sugar until they are smoothly blended. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. With a spoon, stir in the vanilla, orange peel, and zucchini.
3 Alternately stir the dry ingredients and the milk into the zucchini mixture, including the nuts with the last addition.
4 Pour the batter into a greased and flour-dusted 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes (test at 45 minutes!) or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes; turn out on wire rack to cool thoroughly.
5 Drizzle glaze over cake.
Glaze: Mix together 2 cups powdered sugar, 3 Tablespoons milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Cut in thin slices to serve. Makes 10-12 servings.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake for Southerners

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
* 3 eggs
* 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 3/4 cup buttermilk
* 1/2 pound raw zucchini, shredded
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
* confectioners' sugar

Generously grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan. Preheat oven to 350°.
Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with hand held electric mixer at high speed, beat eggs until light in color and fluffy. Gradually beat in granulated sugar until light and fluffy; beat in oil.

With mixer at low speed, beat in the sifted dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk.
Drain shredded zucchini; fold into the flour mixture along with vanilla and pecans. Spoon into prepared Bundt pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan to cool completely. Sift confectioners' sugar over cake before serving.

I want to stress for those of you whom have never baked with zucchini before - really drain and squeeze the liquid out of them. Grate them coarsely and let them soak in a colander until you are ready to press the moisture out.

Duke, our 90 pound Bassett Hound, says he would LOVE to try out any goodie. He likes to sing for it! Sorry Duke, no chocolate for you!

Singing In The Rain

Yesterday afternoon we had the most refreshing storm. Not that I always look on thunder and lightning bolts as refreshing - we have been in such need of the wet stuff that I literally went outside and walked, danced and sang in it!

I even took some pics with rain drops on my thirsty plants:

The soothsayers are predicting more this afternoon. I am thrilled. It may be a little late for most of my shriveled up veggie garden ~ still ~ our water tables need it.

If it does come up a good storm, I hope it pours in a steady abundance.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Since ebay groups is down again I took the opportunity to run some other errands. Really it is so very hot and humid that even peeling myself off the seat of my car is an effort.
Some glorious rain is now falling with some light and sound show. I am thrilled at this bonus!
I will spend the rest of the afternoon working on a few projects that really need some of my attention. Of course, that means being with my two favorite felines, Victor and precious frisky Dinah.

Victor and Dinah demand more of my attention than the projects. Watching Dinah try to sneak attack on old timer Victor is so hilarious. I really wish for a video recorder to capture her antics.

Hoping that your day is as peaceful as mine is turning out to be.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Monday ~ A Day out with the Girls

I enjoy a day out with the girls now and then - the girls being my daughter and my sister. The three of us can have the best time! I have been known to pull over to the shoulder of the road because I laugh so hard I can't see. Today was one of those days. My daughter started her vacation today and wanted to go all around southside Virginia and hit all the thrift stores and antique stores.

We started out early and it is a good thing we did. This country gal doesn't get lost - as long as I have gas in my car I don't consider myself lost, I am just enjoying the backroads scenery. So, today we were enjoying the backroads of Callands, Swansonville and Chatham, Va. We eventually made our way to the lovely historic town of Lynchburg, Va. If you are ever in that fair city I can highly recommend the DAV and the Goodwill. And don't forget to stop at Antiques to Envy on the south side of Lynchburg, Circle A Antiques in Rustburg, Bittersweet in Altavista and the Goodwill in Tightsqueeze, all in Southside Virginia on Hwy 29.

I found this wonderful old Singer . . . and it works great too! After a little looking online, I found that it was manufactured in the 1940's. It came with a stool with accessories in it's seat. The cabinet is in fair shape, still sturdy, just needs a little touch ups from water marks. For $10.00 I think I did better than good!

We found all sorts of little what nots and can't live withouts, ate a nice lunch and headed back towards Rockingham County. We turned the radio up and sang even louder.

We laughed at ourselves and everyone else. It was a good day to be alive. Wish we could always have days like these. Since we can't we save up our pennies for a while until we have enough for gasoline, lunch and enough to not feel guilty about a splurge. We are trying to figure out where we will journey next girls day out.

Since none of us have enough energy to cook dinner for our hubbys, guess who will be eating 'mater sammiches tonite?

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine
Proverbs 17:22

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Did you miss me?

I missed being able to take the time to sit and write the past several days. so, I started out the top of this page with a picture of Balsam - commonly known as forget me nots.

Working outside all summer keeping the yard looking good makes me realize that its all in the details. You know how you want the inside of your house to look? The perfect choreography of furniture and accessories? Moving things around until it shouts back at you, Enough! That is how a garden is to me. I garden mostly with perennials with a dash of annuals. I move my perennials around like a chair and footstool. This year I haven't done any rearranging; just some additions. I like little surprises at each turn of the head and eye.

Another little detail that shouldn't be overlooked is the weeding out the grass and other weeds. Now you have read that I like my weeds. And I do! After all, Sweet Annie is considered a weed by most farmers, but, not by me! The problem with Annie is she always arrives uninvited in a different part of the lawn each spring. I carefully lift her from where she is and move her to where I want her to be. But regular weeding must be done. With a practiced eye, I can find the pesky ones that can overtake and multiply too quickly in the hot humid weather of summer. So, I put on my old hat, stout shoes and tackle the worst offenders.

I have found one plan to be fairly weed free to be effective and highly recommend it. That is to plant closely your perennials and in the empty spaces, the annuals. Sowing this way seems to crod out most weeds. Above is my precious Butterfly Bush. It is not in full bloom yet, however can still attract a great many butterflies and hummingbirds. It is a perennial shrub that throws its seed with the abandon of Sweet Annie. I am always plucking little volunteers up and sharing them with friends.
Enjoy the flowers.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Monday, July 2, 2007

Partied Out

The past several days have gone by so quickly. I am always amazed at how much living can be packed into such a short period of time! I have had friends and relations visiting for a long weekend. They arrived while I was still at work on Friday and I stayed up way too late that evening. I still had to work on Saturday and came home as quick as I could so that I could make the most of each and every moment with my dearest ones.

On Sunday we had the annual big cook out in our backyard. I lost count after 51. Folks were coming and going and returning again. Thank goodness I have a field folks can park in!
Oh my, was it ever good! There was hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, macaroni salad, potato salad, chips and dip of every sort, chicken salad, shrimp salad, sandwiches of the hard roll deli variety, sweet tea, and let's not forget the desserts. We had iced brownies, boston cream cake, a few pies (I didn't even get to see them ~ that's how fast they went ~ and ~ some watermelon kabobs.

Why does food always taste sooooooo good when you eat outside and surrounded by people who are
eating and talking with their mouths full at the same time? I love to mingle with my family and friends at these gatherings. It doesn't seem to matter that most of us see each other all the time. There is something about a PARTY that
is just good old plain fun! We played cards, of course and a game fairly new to me that was introduced to the rest of
the clan that was gathered. It is called Chicken Foot. It is played with dominoes. What a great game and ice breaker!

By dark thirty, we were all bone tired, our tongues give out from all the talking, our fingers tired from playing cards, guitars, banjos, mandolins and even drums. We know how to make a racket. Even my Daddy played the git-fiddle a spell and sang to my Momma. He sang, "Beautiful Beautiful Brown Eyes, I'll never love Blue Eyes again." He hasn't lost his touch. He can still play and sing San Antonio Rose. I joined him on the mandolin and we played a duet for the first time in ages ~ Chinese Breakdown.

For several hours I thought of nothing except the people present. For those hours, no one spoke of their problems. For those hours we all lived in that party world where health is perfect, jobs are stress free, families are not dysfunctional. It was a Lake Woebegone time. The only thing missing was you. Wish you were here.

Watermelon Kabobs

watermelon, seeded and cut into cubes
sharp cheese, cubes
green seedless grapes

Cube fruit and cheese, spear them onto a bamboo skewer and chill until ready. These are yummy and you don't even need a party to enjoy these!