It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
-- e.e. cummings
Okay, so I'm going a little crazy seeing all these good ideas out there and trying to find them again when I want to try one of them! I created a little place in cyberspace to file them away and I'm a happy camper now. This little blog is my little file for fun, simple ideas for special days and the every days. I'm no Martha, but I think it's fun to add a little fun and sparkle every now and then.
I'm inviting you to come Celebrate. Go here to check out some of the fun ideas I've already collected. The blog will be changing from public to "invited readers only" on Friday, so if you'd like to still be able to take a peek at the collected ideas in my "file box" after that, I'll need your ""RSVP", so to speak.
Just click on the "email me" link over there on the sidebar, and send me an email telling me you want to be a reader on the Celebrate blog. If you don't care who sees your email addy, you can also leave me a comment here at the Bend.
The more the merrier! ANYone that wants an invite can have one.
Come celebrate with me. :-)
I love living in a small town in America. This is Memorial Day in my hometown; this is my neighborhood. The old cemetery that's right next to my street is awash in flowers and loved ones remembered. There will be family, neighbors and barbeques today. Flags are everywhere: in every neighbor's yard and throughout the the cemetery itself. A 5K is being run this morning, and a special program is planned later in the day by the veteran's monuments. It doesn't get more Americana than this. I am lucky and blessed to live where I do.
Isn't this monument beautifully done? The soldier is kneeling, looking up at the American flag. All branches of the military are honored here and the slabs of granite (to the right) honor each sacrifice for our country by name and the conflict they fought in.
Freedom isn't free. God bless all those that purchased what we enjoy today with their own lives. God bless our wounded warriors, too. Thank you. ♥
And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
-- Lee Greenwood
I've been super busy this week (like everyone else, I suspect). In addition to my already crazy May schedule, I've been helping my girl finish up the last "real" week of school.
Core testing, finals, projects, packets and finishing up miscellaneous make-up work have just about done her in. She's tired. She's worked hard for a long time, and she's ready to be done. We've encouraged, supported, and cheered her on the past couple of weeks -- telling her to finish strong.
Hmmm. I think there's a message in there for me, too.
... do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
~Robert Louis Stevenson
Isn't this a sweet little plate? My mother-in-law sent along one of these in a package years and years ago. Some time later, I was able to find the whole set -- Sunday through Saturday -- on eBay. I'll have to post a picture of them. This one is the cooking one I have displayed in my kitchen -- each day portrays another household chore, and I adore the little saying.
It rings true to me. I find joy in making my home a haven.
These past few months, it's become so clear to me that I am the barometer of this little family. The better my attitude is, the better everyone else does. The better I manage our little home, the better everyone feels, including me. (Gotta stick to my routines!) I really see the difference I make now that the family is under stress, but it's true all the time.
It's pleasant to me to labor for those I love. I've been thinking of these little plates a lot lately... you know, my days of being a stay at home mom are numbered. Either this job trial will boot me back out in the workforce, or the Sweet Girl's graduating from high school will (only 3 years left -- eep! -- where did the time go?). So, these days of having my full-time work be laboring for my family and home are precious to me.
It's a labor of love.
We've had our ups and downs this week. A 2nd interview that was fairly bursting with "buy signals" -- I think the word Mr. H used for the interviewer was 'slobbering', LOL -- well, it didn't work out. They went with someone else. (We know better than to count chickens before they hatch, but we were all so ready to be done with worry and skimping and stress!) Another opportunity fizzled when the company who was advertising for a contractor objected to Mr. H having some contract work on his resume. Huh? Go figure.
On the other hand, we have been enjoying gorgeous Spring days -- the sun and warmth have finally decided to stay, and we've been outside a lot, soaking up some vitamin D. We have a loving family fretting over us, keeping us in their prayers and sending help when they can. We have a lovely neighborhood with good friends that are also our neighbors. Mr. H is still working his short-term contract (thankful for that). We're all relatively healthy and safe, sheltered and fed. Life is good.
Here are two little people I know that are a great example of 'joy in the journey' to me: my nephews. They GET it. They're experts. They take great joy in their journey and give a lot to those around them. Here they are in action. Proof.
Driving in your car on a warm sunny day.
Homemade ice cream!
♥ Look at those faces. If that ain't joy in the journey, I don't know what is!! ♥
I nearly put "Neener, Neener" as the title of this post. Why? I have a friend, who shall remain nameless, that covets lilacs and has even been know to (ahem) purloin blossoms from others' yards! Oh my! Tsk, Tsk! ;-) I believe she's reformed now. I taunt you anyway, my dear friend! (evil chuckle)
I can't look at our lilac bushes this year without thinking of her. With all the rain and snow we got this year, they are just going crazy. I've never seen so many blooms.
Look at that huge bumblebee there. I think he was drunk on the fragrance. He never stopped working, but buzzed loudly at me when I got close -- as if to say -- "Mine! All mine!" Looks like you've got some competition, H.! ;-)
My daughter's bedroom is above these bushes and you can smell their perfume through her open window. What a nice way to fall asleep. Talk about joy in the journey!
I have a confession to make. Sugar cookies and I just don't get along. (gasp!) This has been going on for more than 20 years.
We've tried everything to make the relationship work. Don't get me wrong -- I love them! They are scrum-dilly-umptious with frosting on them. I can just never, never re-create the magic at home that I find buying them at the store. (hanging head) I cannot make good sugar cookies.
All that is over now! Through a great recipe and an even better sister, I have found sugar cookie heaven. My gourmet cook sister, Debbie, strikes again. She let me know about this recipe, that came via this blog. Find the original recipe here. This is my sister's take on the recipe. I'm telling you, this will become your go-to recipe for sugar cookies. Even I can make these perfectly! They bake very well and taste light and delicious. Don't hate me when you gain ten pounds.
White Velvet Sugar Cookies
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
4 1/4 to 4 3/4 cups flour (I used the 4 3/4 cup, but I live in a very dry climate)
Cream butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Add sugar, egg yolks and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add flour. The dough will be VERY soft, but will get firm as it cools in the fridge. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge (I split it up into thirds to chill) for 2 hours or until firm. Roll out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes; place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until set, but not browned. Place on wire racks to cool.
Sugar Cookie Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
a pinch of salt
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons milk
Food Coloring (if desired) (Using the food coloring drops might thin your frosting, so just add more powdered sugar, or use the food coloring gel, Wilton's is the brand Melanie recommends)
Combine butter, vanilla, salt and beat until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar in 1-2 cup increments until combined. Add milk and food coloring until you reach your desired consistency.
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form. (Using a chilled bowl and beaters help) Fold whipping cream gently into the cream cheese mixture. This frosting is not sickly sweet and stays soft so all the little sugars and stuff stick very well.
deliciously frosted sugar cookie picture credit: My Kitchen Cafe blog
We had a busy Mother's Day here. Mr. H was assigned to speak at church (the Mother's Day talk -- fraught with peril, that one!) and did a wonderful job. He was a little nervous about it that morning, but still managed to pull off a big surprise, thanks in part to a sweet mother-in-law's help ($). (Thank you!)
Mr. H got me a mixer. My reaction: Honey! ... What the heck? ... No! ... Well, okay.... [sheepish grin]... [big hugs]! (He told me it was the small one, and not too expensive...fine by me!)
After church, we all had my Mother's Day dinner ( Tacos and chocolate chip cookies -- I know. No steaks, no fancy-schmancy anything. I just wanted junk food for Mother's Day!) and mmmm ... it tasted so good! How fun to then use the mixer to make the cookies. They turned out way yummy.
I still think my Mother's Day surprise is little extravagant, especially considering our current "bend in the road", and I feel a little guilty, but I've decided to accept this joy in the journey and let my hubby bless me. He's wanted to get me one for a long time, and it made him so happy to do this. I'm happy too.
I'm a bad blogger. No, I'm a blogger that had a less-than-great week. I just let *everything* get to me. I had myself a big ol' pity party. AWOL 'cause I didn't feel like whining here, and I certainly didn't feel like writing anyway. Do you feel that way, too? Or are you the kind of person that NEEDS to write when you are in a mood?
Well, I'm giving myself a good talking to. I found this wooden plaque (at a grocery store of all places!) late last week, and it was a good reminder to not wait for someday. Be happy. Be thankful. Find joy in the everyday. Count blessings. No matter what life is right now.
This week, I'm gonna be on the lookout for joy in the journey to remind myself how blessed I am. Like my teenage daughter bringing me flowers from her walk home every day last week. And that morning light streaming into my kitchen....
There. That's more like it. :-)
Mr. H and I have been on the lookout for home improvement projects that can be done on our current shoestring budget. Here's one we did the other weekend -- new shutters on the house. Cost? Zero! That works.
These shutters were bought last year before the job loss, and put away in the garage when the cold weather hit. Our old white shutters were brittle and yellowing -- but I forgive them. They faced west and took the heat of the sun every summer afternoon for twenty years. Poor babies.
...and here's after:
I know. Not too huge of a change. We were joking that we were adding sub-conscious curb appeal. It would make a difference, but no one would know why, or notice, but us. Kinda like bleaching your teeth... LOL So, say cheese, little house! You're looking good!
In case you can't read that quote, it says, "Within our dreams and our aspirations we find our opportunities". Pretty apropos for this week! Dreams, aspirations and opportunities have been all we've talked about this week!
Mr. H and I have been brainstorming various options for our family's future that include work, training and/or school. Our heads were spinning after discussing all the different scenarios and how to make them work. Which option is most realistic? How do we pay for it all and make it happen? And how do we live in the meantime? Yikes.
We also registered the Sweet Girl for the high school this week. (eek! I can't believe it!)I've been going to orientations and researching teachers and classes; fitting everything into a sophomore class schedule/graduation requirements/her college bound path. I think I'm seeing a theme for the week, here....
It's called The Bend in the Road Week. It'll be interesting to see what lies just around the bend for each of us. Dreams...aspirations....opportunities...here they come!
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