Saturday, May 31, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

It has been quiet here the last few days.  The only thing of much interest was the End Of Year Pre-K 3 Program at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School in Keller.  It was a lovely program of about a dozen little 3-4 year olds.  The first part of the program was a medley of patriotic tunes, the middle was a popular song that the children performed to with big flower headdresses and the last of the program was a slide show of photographs from throughout the year.  It was delightful and I cried.  Yes, I did.  I have a tendency to get weepy when it comes to milestones and this was definitely a milestone.  There was a lovely little reception afterward and here is our little songstress enjoying her refreshments.

Other than that, all I have been doing is a lot of thinking.  As I have noted in prior posts, I am tending toward a minimalist approach to things and have been giving a lot of thought as to what needs to be eliminated in the house, condensed or re-evaluated. I will be spending the first couple of weeks in June going through a number of things beginning with clothes and accessories.  Books are always an issue here but we are adding two new bookcases to the furnishings.  However, I will still be sorting through and passing on a number of books.  I was thrilled to learn, this week, that the library we frequent accepts donations so that is where I will be taking my books.  I don't like selling them and I can't keep all of them so I think that is a worthy place for them to go.

Another thing I have been thinking about is reading challenges.  I just love to read and don't really have enough time for it but I get it in snatches whenever I can.  I seem to always be distracted by what I "need" to be doing but I would love a day when I can just sit down with a good book and a cuppa and read without guilt -- possibly when I get through the books and the clothes.  That is what I am hoping.   But, back to book challenges.  I find that when I am involved in book challenges I don't enjoy the books as much.  It is like a race to meet a goal and I find that I can't get "into" the book as much.  So, while I am still going to add to the Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge as I go, I don't think it is going to be a goal anymore.  I will continue to review and list my books on here but I don't think I am going to adhere to a challenge anymore. 

I have also been thinking about exercising.  I don't do enough of it but I am still wearing my pedometer to track my steps. However, this week I have done something a little different.  I have started doing some regular ol' exercise like sit-ups, leg lifts and toe touches, etc. after I have gotten up in the morning.  I find it easier to just do a few of these -- it doesn't take long -- first thing in the morning rather than wait until night because at night -- well, truthfully, it isn't going to happen.  I was also watching a Leslie Sansone walking video on YouTube the other day and was inspired.  I used to have her tapes, in fact, I probably still do -- I just don't have a VCR anymore.  However, her approach is to walk in place, almost like marching.  I have been doing that for the last couple of days while I am standing in the kitchen or waiting for the washer to stop or during commercials on tv and it has definitely upped my step count.  Finally, I did a bit of arm exercise with some cans of green beans.  It is amazing how you can get some exercise in without too much of an effort of expenditure of $$$$.  I have actually enjoyed the morning exercise -- I feel so accomplished.

I have also been thinking about planners.  Everybody I know uses a planner.  I like the idea, I feel like I should use a planner and I WANT to use a planner.  The problem is, I don't have anything to plan.  Once you have your kids grown and your schedule changes, well, a planner is sort of unnecessary. Plus, the commercial versions never seem to work for my needs. However, I ran across this on Pinterest and decided it would be a fun project.

So, I went to Barnes and Noble and bought the Moleskine -- a black, large, gridded model.  Then, I went to work.  I am not done by a long-shot but I think it is going to work.

Basic Moleskine notebook, gridded, $18.95

Monthly View

Weekly View

Closeup, albeit it blurry, weekly view

I started with January 2014 even though it has passed but I didn't add the weekly pages.  I started the weekly pages with June.  I intend to use the weekly pages for meal planning.  I think the reason that I can't stick with a planner is that they never seem to work for me -- the divisions are too small, they aren't flexible and there isn't any extra room for notes (and doodles, if you will).  So, I am thinking this might be the answer.  I am going to use metallic stars (I love gold stars) to denote birthdays and will maybe use stickers to emphasis other events like Christmas and Easter. 

I am going to use the weekly views for meal planning.  I keep looking for a way to do simple meal planning and I keep trying to use a different notebook, dry erase board, etc. and none of it works for me so I thought I would just do it here -- that it would be a good thing to have it all in one place in my purse.  I figure if I have coupons for products I will be using during any one week I can paper clip them here and just have them with me without so much fuss.

Since there are a LOT of pages in these notebooks, I am planning on using some of the empty pages in the back to keep up with the books I am reading in series.  I have about three or four series going and I keep forgetting which books come next, which I have read and which I own so I thought this would be a good way to keep up with that as well.  I have these lists on my Nook but I find I don't like carrying the Nook with me all the time.

I am not finished with it -- I have only gone to July.  I have ordered some index tabs to put on the monthly view so I can see the month easily.  They are on their way.  I am also planning on using this as somewhat of a diary as well -- making note of anything memorable that happens in a day.  I have never been very successful at journaling so maybe if it is here, in this one place, I will be able to at least attempt it.

I will post more photos as I finish with it, with some pics of embellishments and such.  I haven't decided if I want to embellish the front cover or not -- I have a tendency to just throw things in a bag and am not particularly careful with stuff so it might get really wrecked -- I don't know, more thoughts later.

So, anyway, that is what has been going on.  Not much but apparently enough to ramble about a little too much.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays (May 27)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I know it is late but I am so taken with this book that I just wanted to share another teaser.  I have only read the first chapter and I already can't put it down. So, from "Past Imperfect" by Julian Fellowes, here is my teaser.

"Dear S&*T, It is almost Christmas.  It is also late and I am drunk and so I have found the nerve to say that you have made my life a living lie for nineteen years.  I stare at my living lie each day and all because of you.  No one will ever know the truth and I will probably burn this rather than send it, but you ought to realise where your deceit and my weakness have led me.  I do not quite curse you, I could not do that, but I don't forgive you, either, for the course my life has taken.  I did not deserve it."

So, there you go.  I don't know if that is a compelling teaser or not but the book is getting very good and I think it is going to be a page turner!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Into the Garden

Yesterday was another day spent tweaking the garden.  We live in a garden home but our yard is as large as it was in our former, traditional house.  We live on a wedge shaped lot which creates a lot of back and side yard but not much front yard.  We are fortunate that we do not have to maintain the yards, that is done through our HOA dues and the yards, front and back, are mowed and trimmed once a week.  That was one of the attractions of living here because my husband doesn't mind gardening but mowing is not his activity of choice.  We do have to maintain our flower beds ourselves, however.  When the subdivision was built, the landscaper that the builder used put in lots of beautiful plants.  It was gorgeous when they were all small but as they grew, many of them were just too large for the space in which they were placed.  Plus, the houses on this end of the subdivision were built on solid rock and the soil depth isn't, well, deep so lots of things have been lost.  The one thing we can't get rid of is the bermuda grass that keeps coming up in one of the front flower beds. We are working on that but refuse to do anything with those beds until the grass is gone.

Anyway, yesterday was the day to tackle the front flower bed.  We lost a Hawthorn bush that needed to be removed.  The Creeping Charlie wasn't creeping very well, in fact, it looked like it had crawled to it's death and the whole thing just needed to be raked out.  We decided that once Charlie was gone and the bush was no more, we would just add a bunch of Skullcap.  It has done well everywhere we have put it and I thought it would lend itself to the "unmanicured" look I prefer.  I also thought it would complement the Dianthus.  At the end of today, we will probably be moving a couple of the plants around to make room for a deep purple Crepe Myrtle to break up the expanse of house wall.  So, what do you think?

plants going in -- bed still looks a little rough

my husband loves to use jigs so he devised a way to measure for each plant to get them spaced correctly as they went around a curve

looking better
After the planting and the addition of mulch and Bernard Bunny

from the driveway -- nice play off the Dianthus

an update on the growth progress of the purslane in the blue pots

and the other pot

The day was humid in the morning and progressed to being very hot but at the end, after the planting and mulching, we had a lovely rain that resulted in this stellar rainbow.  Isn't it lovely?

so vibrant

it was so large you could see both ends -- just no pot of gold!

this was when it first appeared

Friday at Homestead Farms or You Ain't Been Kissed 'til You've Been Kissed by a Goat!

This past Friday was a fun day to visit Homestead Farms in Keller, Texas.  It was story time and craft day and what a beautiful day it was for it.  The Farris family runs such a delightful operation there at Homestead Farms and it was just made all the better with the addition of Meredith Lyons from Barefoot Books.  Miss Meredith read a very appropriate story -- The Little Red Hen -- positioned right in front of the hen house.  After the story, the kiddos were invited to participate in a craft -- making their own "little red hen".  The piece de resistance was the pen of baby goats just waiting to be petted.  I know my granddaughter's one wish was to be able to pet a goat and that she did.  I think she could have stayed there all afternoon just playing with them and I have to say they loved it as well.  One of the larger baby goats was very friendly and very affectionate.  After a lengthy head-patting session I think it just wanted to return the affection and gave my granddaughter a big lick on the arm.  There was surprise all around -- granddaughter jumped and when she jumped so did the goat.  Guess their ain't no kiss like a goat kiss!  The visit wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Homestead Farms Store where we bought some more of their fantastic tamales, pork chops and the biggest yellow squash you have ever seen.  I wish I had taken a photo of it but I came home and cooked it up immediately.  It was superb!  I will be checking for more this Friday. 

So, here are some photos from the day and contact information for Miss Meredith.  She was delightful, the turnout was fantastic and the kids just all had a wonderful time.

The crops have grown tremendously since our last visit

The baby goats

Baby goat, goat, goat goat, Baby goat

Right after THE KISS!

These chickens were just tiny, fuzzy yellow chicks at the last visit! My how they have grown!

Big bunny chowing down on lettuce

One of the two farm dogs -- they don't mind having children lay on them

Miss Meredith from Barefoot Books

This is just a portion of the attendance

If you are happy and you know it....!

great story - great storyteller


Craft table

Creation of a bunch of little red hens


Our own little red hen
Contact info for Meredith Lyons of Barefoot Books.  Visit the website for purchase or to book her for an event.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Time May 15, 2014

Filed under: Wordpress — --Deb @ 1:06 am
btt button
If you had all the time in the world, what would you read?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

This is easy.  Everything.  I would finish the Aunt Dimity series as well as the Elm Creek Quilt series.  I would re-read the Mitford series in anticipation of the new book coming out in the autumn.  I would definitely read more of the M. C. Beaton Hammish MacBeth series -- great, funny books.  And......I would throw more Garrison Keillor in and more classics.

Like I said, everything.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Organics, Organics, Organics

As I have posted here in the past, I have been on a journey to do things in a more natural, healthy way.  I started on this quest a couple of years ago, maybe a bit longer, and I don't see it stopping anytime soon.  I can't tell you when it started exactly but it was a slow start -- I have made changes in a very slow way.  I have tried commercial products as well as DIY products. In addition to making an effort to be healthier in my lifestyle, I am also trying to be more frugal.  I know that the choices I make in what we use and how much I pay for it will ultimately affect our quality of life.  So, it is a balancing act to do the best I can for us and not break the bank.  So, when I have tried products that don't fill my bill I really have a problem throwing them away.  If they are only marginally bad, I tend to use them up an make a note not to buy them again.  If they are really terrible, I just toss them but I try very hard to use it enough to give it a chance before I pass judgement.  I have found excellent products and not so excellent products in all product lines whether they are natural, organic or just regular stuff.

I like a lot of my DIY products -- mostly my homemade laundry soap.  I much prefer it to commercial laundry detergents.  It doesn't bother my skin and I like the smell of it depending on what soap I use.  I recently bought a new mop -- a Rubbermaid Reveal mopping system.

I bought this because I don't like Swiffers.  I don't like the cleanser, I don't like that you throw everything away and they don't feel very sturdy.  This mop is great -- it comes with a microfiber pad that can be machine washed and a refillable bottle that I can use whatever cleaner I want.  I got a good deal, though, because mine came with two bottles and three pads. 

I was recently looking for an all purpose cleaners to use around the house that didn't use vinegar.  I have a lot of granite and vinegar isn't good for it so I was searching for an alternative.  I found a really easy recipe that calls for water, rubbing alcohol, a couple of drops of dishwashing soap and some essential oil if you desire.  I made up two batches, put it in spray bottles and put one in each bathroom with a roll of paper towels.  It works great to just quickly swish the bathroom in the morning while I am getting ready.  It doesn't smell like alcohol and it doesn't smell like the sweet orange essential oil I used so it works well for me.  Up to now I have just mopped with water in my new mop but I intend to use this same mixture for my floors.  I think it will be just perfect.

My quest for natural products hasn't just involved household products.  I am adamant about not using chemicals on my person.  That is one of the hardest things to change, especially if you have dry skin.  As I have mentioned previously, I have changed almost everything about what I use.  I now use a line of makeup called Rejuva -- available online.  I finally completed my makeup bag with a small size of their new pressed foundation and a lip gloss called Cherry Splash.  It is SCARY red but it is really so pretty on -- not bright and garish and it isn't sticky.  I wish I had bought it first but I also recently bought a tube of NARS dolce vita lipstick and, while I love the color and the feel, I feel like I am putting poison on my body.  Not a good feeling.  I have been really happy with the Rejuva line and haven't really been tempted to try something new.

As my hair is returning from the chemo treatments, my chemo curls are showing up really nicely and I love them!  I know that my hair is still coming in, even though I have quite a bit, because it still itches! Very strange, I know.  I also know that my hair is fragile so I am doing a lot to keep it healthy and undamaged.  What does that mean?  That means I am washing it one day a week with my J.R. Liggett shampoo and with just water in between.  As suggested by my doctor's nurse, I am brushing it with a natural bristle hairbrush.  I am not using product of any sort.  I probably never will.  The texture is completely different and the curls are something I am not used to.  My new routine seems to be working nicely, though, because even though I have had gray hair for a very long time, it has never had the shine that it has now so I am thinking my new routine is very good for my hair. 

Now, this is where we get to the TMI part so, if you are squeamish, you might want to stop reading here.  I have very dry skin and love Dr. Bronner's soap but I have noticed that it is making me drier.  So, I did a little reading and discovered that, unless you have been working under a car, running in a marathon, playing in the dirt, etc. you don't have to use soap to get clean.  I even discussed this with my microbiologist husband and he confirmed what the articles said.  So, I have quit using soap.  I shower every day, sometimes twice, and I don't just let the water wash over me.  I scrub.  I use a washrag and I scrub.  If I really feel the need I will use soap in the strategic areas but for the most part, I am soap free.  My skin is just looking better and better.  And, nobody has complained to me about being stinky.

I also quit using commercial deodorants including the better known "natural" products.  The crystal ones made me itch and the natural varieties smelled funky to me.   So, I concocted my own.  I use a small amount of coconut oil and rub it in very well, completely, and then powder with a mixture of baking soda and cornstarch, heavy on the cornstarch. I am very pleased with the results. 

I was walking through Central Market today and spotted a new product and I am a sucker for new products if they have ingredients that I can pronounce and understand.  As I was talking to one of the ladies that works in the health and wellness department I very quietly explained my hygiene routine and she totally agreed with me and noticed that I picked up this ~

I was assured it was an outstanding product and I could read and understand all the ingredients.  I also picked up this ~

I am anxious to try this because of the ingredients -- the main ingredient is coconut oil and it also contains cornstarch.  It will be much easier to travel with than a tiny jar of coconut oil and a parmesan shaker of my homemade powder.  I haven't tried it yet for efficacy but I hope it works.  If it doesn't, I know that my DIY version works well and makes me feel good that I am not putting chemicals on my body.

So, I think I have done a good job of balancing frugality with healthy with these products.  I have managed to narrow down products, whether DIY or commercially produced, and don't really have the desire to keep trying things out.  Being more minimally minded these days, I like the idea of just having a few products that work well for me, are affordable, easily attainable and simple.  By making a few of my own things, I don't feel bad about buying some of the more expensive products that I can't make myself.  I have also been more open minded about things -- realizing that I can buy Rejuva Minerals cosmetics for a lot less than I can buy mainstream products, they are healthier and just work well.  I realize that by adding some rubbing alcohol to water I can make a perfectly acceptable cleaning product that I feel safe using and safe having around.  I can make it up as I go and not have to store a lot of cleaning products.  I feel very satisfied employing these new ideas in my life.  I just wish I had thought this way when I was younger!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays

Hosted by Teaser Tuesdays is an event hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.  The object is to share a couple of lines -- no spoilers -- from your current read.  Today, my lines come from "Past Imperfect" by Julian Fellowes.

"As I have said, her privileges were great, if not unique, as  a member of the select, surviving rump of the Old World.  At that time, self-made fortunes were usually much smaller than they would be decades later and the very rich, at least those people who 'lived rich,' still tended mostly to be those who had been even richer thirty years before."

I haven't started this book but intend to this evening.  I was drawn to it because it takes place in the 1960's -- MY teenage decade.  I was also drawn to it because the author is the man who makes "Downton Abbey" possible.  It sounds like it has to be a winner. 

I just finished "The Master Quilter" by Jennifer Chiaverini and, like all her books, I hated to see it end.  I am looking forward to the next book in the series but, in the meantime, I am going to jump into "Past Imperfect".  Hope it is good!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Into the Garden --

Isn't "garden" a wonderful word?  I can just imagine all sorts of gardens and it is a much nicer description than just "back yard".  We haven't done much in the garden this year, yet, since we have both been plagued with allergies -- Hubs more than me.  However, it seems to be doing well on it's own.  The weeding has begun but in short spurts and the pots have been planted.  We only have four large pots.  I tried using many small pots but found the plants don't do so well so we have limited it to four large pots -- two in the front and two in the back.  The dewberry vine which is unfortunate and unwanted is thriving beautifully and I doubt we will ever get rid of it.  The mint that started out as one small plant in a small planter has taken over everything.  I doubt we will ever be able to get rid of it either.  Considering the lack of rain and the lack of constant maintenance, everything is doing very well.

So, let's take as troll through the garden ~

hanging basket of Superbells above the mint bed

the small crabapple tree has doubled in height in just two years

the lantana that comes up every year on its own -- not planted there

a vine coming from the neighbor's yard

mass of skull cap blooming

the mint that has jumped across the yard into another flower bed

pot of purslane

the dreaded dewberry

I just love this crabapple tree

Violets that I planted years ago have now decided to come back

purslane in the front pots

more purslane

dianthus bed -- just love those little round humps

the maple tree by the front door

I can't believe these pear trees have gotten so big

the jungle from the back side of the yard
So, that is the stroll through the garden this Monday morning.  It is cool and very windy out this morning.  We have a cardinal couple in the yard now.  They are so cute, she is so little and feminine and he is the largest cardinal I have ever seen.  I am hoping to get a snap of them later.  They have been stopping by late afternoon so maybe I can catch them.

Have a wonderful Monday!