Coming to life in the garden

The garden is just beginning to bring forth what will be many blooming shrubs and flowers. One of my favorites is the Black Lace Elderberry.  This shrub is best in a corner because it spreads up and sideways.  In the spring it has these lovely light pink flowers amid the dark leaves.  It requires light, but otherwise is a no maintenance addition to the garden.  It thrives in heat and drought and looks good all season.  Love it!

Summer Shrub

Summer Shrub



Cool Summer Dress

monalunna dress pattern

monalunna dress pattern

I have two granddaughters and sewing for them is one of my many hobbies. While shopping in a quilt store of all places, I happened upon this cute monaluna pattern and knew I needed to work up a couple of these dresses for the girls.  It is an easy pattern and can be put together quickly.  Very fun, comfortable and a cool – as in temperature –  dress for summer.  My girls are all about comfort.


Life On The Farm – A Quieter Time

Between Okarche and Kingfisher

Between Okarche and Kingfisher

While traveling the backroads recently, I happened upon this cute little farm area. It sent me back many years to when my grandparents lived on a farm in the small town of Springer, Oklahoma.

My siblings and I were raised in the city and going to the farm was like leaving the country, even though it was only 100 miles away. This was a working farm where there were cows, horses, sheep, chickens and other assorted critters. My grandmother could go outside, find the right chicken and in a matter of moments, grab it, ring its neck and take inside to prepare for the freshest, best fried chicken ever.

We had fresh eggs, milk, butter and cream. Today all those food items would be deemed very unhealthy for us, but back then that is what people, and especially people on the farm, ate….and it was really good.

I remember one day I wandered down to where Gran was milking a cow. I was barefoot and managed to step into a big pile of cow poop. Fresh and warm it oozed between my toes and over my foot and I was aghast! I was hopping around and shaking my foot trying hard to get that stuff off. My grandmother, as calmly as possible without missing a beat, turned her milking towards me and sprayed my foot with warm milk fresh from the cow. Well, that just made it worse. I can still hear her laughing as I quickly made my way back to the farmhouse yelling for my mom to come and rescue me from this terrible fate.

Visits to the farm helped shape my life and reflecting on them gave me cause to ponder. It is a shame my children will never experience life on the farm. My grandparents are long gone and so is the farm.

I wish my children could experience the nights that were pitch black, but when looking up at the stars you could clearly see the constellations and an occasional falling star. The city is so bright one cannot appreciate how beautiful the heavens really are.

The nights are so quiet and yet terribly loud with the sounds of crickets, cicadas, frogs, coyotes howling and general rustlings. However, there are not cars, trucks, or sirens. It is a loud quiet that goes deep inside you.

We could go to the well and pump water, and it was the best tasting water. I can still taste how truly fresh and clean that water was.

Then there was always the outhouse. I was not a fan of using those facilities, but my grandparents did not have indoor plumbing for many years. My poor mom had to take me, no matter what time it was, because there was no way I was going out there by myself. There was that ever-present danger of the boogieman coming to get me, not to mention what might pop up out of the water and bite my butt.

I wish my children could experience life without all the bells and whistles. Our senses are bombarded all the time with something that glows in the dark. We have our phones, pads, laptops. My children have no idea how when a phone would ring, and you had no idea who it was until you answered it – and it was not a telemarketer.

I never felt safe, as my mother did, telling my children to go outside and not to come home until they heard her whistle. And when we heard that her whistle, we better get home fast. It is not safe for children to play up and down the block as we did as children.

We were city slickers and my children are city slickers and the farm is no longer an option. Very sad, because I wish my children had experienced life at a calmer, less frantic pace. There is not a chance they can even begin to realize that lifestyle, which is unfortunate because farm life is all but disappearing.


Ain’t it the truth

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow, what a ride!'”

San Francisco

This quote is taken from a Nissan commercial, but I don’t think they ever made a car quite like this.



It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Hafer Park in the snowThis is probably our last snow for the year, but you never know.  Now we are moving into tornado weather – ugh.  When it snows I can snuggle up in the house and stay by the fire drinking hot cocoa.  During tornado season, there is no relaxing.


Waiting for the Deer

In the woods behind the house the neighbor puts out encouragement for the deer to come.  They come,  of course, just never when we can see them.



Starting anew to buy nothing new….this is a very interesting project to try

Several years back I read an article that completely changed the way I spend money, the way I buy items I need and it changed the relationship I have with the stuff I currently own.  It was life changing, …..really.  I could not find the article today to give it credit, but I believe I read about it in Parade Magazine back in 2007 or 2008.  It was about a group of people in California that made a pact to not buy anything new for one full year.  They exempted obvious things like food and underwear, but any other tangible consumer good was included in the pact.  You were allowed to buy “used” goods or barter and trade with people, but you were not allowed to purchase any new, as in brand new, item for 12 months.

I was intrigued by the idea, but could not commit to a full year. I had a young daughter and was a little intimidated by the prospect of a full 12 months.  So I commuted the time to 6 months and exempted a couple of additional items to my list.  I allowed myself to buy anything new for my daughter that I could not find used and I added major appliances to the list in case my stove or washing machine, which was already ancient, broke down during the 6 months. I started on January 1st of probably 2008.

The week before my start date, my daughter and I house sat my Aunt and Uncle’s house in the mountains.  It had been snowing in Colorado and we packed our snow shovel because I did not know if I could get down their driveway when I got to their house.  We did not need the shovel after all and I put it in their garage while we were there.  When we headed home to Denver, I realized that I had left the shovel in their garage.

That following Tuesday as I left a client’s location, it started to snow and the forecast was for a decent amount of snow over the next couple of days.  I had no snow shovel and I had just committed to not buying anything new.  As I left my client’s office, I was trying to figure out what to do about not having a snow shovel.  It was early January and we would need a shovel several times over the next few months.  I remembered thinking…” Does Goodwill have snow shovels?  What are the chances that they would have one, especially now that it has started to snow? Where does someone get a used snow shovel?”

As I pondered my problem and my commitment to the pact, I noticed that traffic was really moving slowly.  All of the cars in front of me were getting backed up, though I could not see any kind of accident in front of them.  As we were creeping along, I saw that most of the cars in my lane were changing lanes ahead.  I finally got to the front of the line and there in the middle of the road was……..a snow shovel!!  I looked all around me to see if someone was making a U-turn to come back for the shovel, but there was no one showing any interest in retrieving it, so I stopped my car and put the shovel in the back.  I swear to you, this is a true story and I own that shovel still today, 7 or so years later.

When I read the article, it did mention that the people participating were surprised at how the things they needed and would have purchased before the pact found their way to them.  Mention to a friend that your blender broke and they say….I have a couple of blenders, you can have one of mine.  And so on.  I did find that to be true and I also found all kinds of ways to deal with needing to acquire something that was not brand new. Initially, it was a real challenge.  It was the impulse buying that caught me off guard initially.  I would without thinking pick up something that I liked the looks of and then would remember that I could not buy it.

My friends were truly confounded by the prospect and questioned me for months as to how I was doing and how was I doing it.  Really, their questions were a constant in my life.  They simply could not imagine how I could go for 6 months and not buy a single new item. I grew to love the challenge and I learned a great deal about myself in the process.

At the time, I had a small wallet that was attached to a key chain.  I loved that little wallet because I have not carried a purse for decades and it had everything I needed in it; money, credit card, lip gloss, etc. During the first couple of months of the pact, it broke…the leather piece that held the wallet to the key chain came apart.  In the past, I would have immediately headed to the store to replace the wallet, but alas, I could not.  As I looked at the wallet, I saw that what it really needed was just to be sewn together again.  No problem, so easy to do I could do it myself and I did just that.

As the months progressed, it got easier.  I got more creative and I determined that it was such a worthwhile process that I would continue it after a fashion even once the initial 6 months were over.  For several years after the initial pact, I would not buy anything new except during 2 months of the year; January and July.  Choosing those 2 months allowed for a couple of things.  1) If I truly needed something, I told myself I only had to wait until January or July came around.  It was surprising how when a buying month came around, I could not remember what it was that I thought I needed to buy.  2) In January and July, everything is on sale!  So what I did need to buy was almost always cheaper than if I had bought it at the moment I thought I needed it.

The change in my spending habits was significant.  The change in the relationship I have with my current stuff was significant.  I take better care of what I own and I value it more.  I discovered Goodwill and other used/consignment shops at which I would never have otherwise shopped.  Literally, every time I have really needed Goodwill to have something I really needed….it did.  I had a Cuisinart coffee maker that I had never seen anyone else have (fairly expensive, one cup at a time)  and it broke.  One day in Goodwill, there it was…a fully functional replacement of the exact one I wanted. I had gone to Goodwill to buy some raggedy old maker to get me by.  For $9 I replaced my exact one.  We shop there all the time now.  More than half my daughter’s clothing come from Goodwill.

My disposable income became something I treasured.  I had so much more money left over every month that it completely changed the way and the degree to which I saved money toward really large expenditures that had eluded me in the past.

It has been a couple of years since I exercised the discipline of that pact, but my sister and brother-in-law are in a small group that is trying it as of Jan 1 and I have decided to be a believer again.  As of January 1st, I will be back on the “Nothing New” pact for 2015…or at least until July.  Try your own version of this and stick with it long enough to really learn from and benefit from the process. It is the very difficult times; times when you really think you need  that new thing that you will learn the most and get the most out of the process. I think you will be amazed at what you discover about yourself and what you can live without or acquire in a different manner.


January 3rd Avocado Egg Toast

Saw a great idea on Foodnetwork this morning and decided to try it as a great alternative for breakfast, lunch or afternoon snack.  It is healthy, has the good type of fat and a nice amount of protein.  I toasted a couple of pieces of whole wheat bread, smashed 1/2 of a nice ripe avocado on the slices, sprinkled with a little salt and some lemon and then topped with slices of a hard boiled egg topped with a little more salt and some pepper.  It was delish!


I need some easy things to make for breakfast so I don’t default to cereal, high in carbs and sugar. I like to scramble eggs, but some mornings I do not have the time to sauté the vegetables to make the eggs interesting and more nutritional. Plus, I like cheese with my scrambled eggs and if I want to cut some bad fat and calories, I need to add cheese less often.  So having avocados and hard boiled eggs on hand make this a great alternative that is so easy to make in the mornings.

Substitute the toast with pita bread and this would be easy to pack for lunch.  Take the ingredients to work and make it when you are ready to eat it.    I like it and plan on using it often.