Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Last Rose Of Winter

Taking an early evening walk yesterday afternoon I spotted these lovely Camellia blossoms blooming down in the side yard.  It was a nice surprise to see them still blooming during this first week of Springtime.  Camellias are referred to as the "rose of winter" in our Southern gardens,  so I knew these lovely blossoms would be the last we will see until next Winter.

And another view in the daylight.

This Camellia is called La Peppermint Camellia and is an old Southern favorite.  It is definitely one of my favorites with it's pretty red and white variegated blossoms.  The cold hardiness zones for this flower are 7,  8 and 9.

Our first week of Springtime was very rain-filled which will help Mother Nature as she turns everything around us into an amazing sea of green again.

Wishing you a beautiful beginning of Springtime and many blessings wherever you may be.

Monday, March 21, 2016

First Day Of Spring - March 2016

It turned out that the first day of Spring was a bright, sparkling, clear and beautiful day here in the South.  It was nice to have a little picture taking time to spend outside on this lovely day.

If you look closely at the tree tops you can see all of the 
new little green leaves coming in on the awakening trees.

The grass has turned green which makes a pretty contrast with the pretty pink Azaleas blooming.

 And in the back yard,  looking down the hill toward the pond,  we
 can see most everything is turning green.

While sitting at the kitchen table this early morning and looking out the window, I saw the very first Hummingbird stop by the feeder.   There was not enough time to get my camera to take his picture.  I thought how nice it was for him to appear for the first time on the very first day of Spring.  

Azaleas picked from the front yard.

I enjoyed having the March Garden Club meeting at our home last Wednesday.   All the members bring a covered dish to share for brunch.  I was so busy getting everything ready I did not have time to take a photo of all the delicious dishes everyone shared....the below photo is an "after" photo.

The centerpiece for the dining room table is a collection of pretty flowers from our local Fresh Market.  If you have a Fresh Market in your area you know how charming it is to visit that beautiful grocery store.  I love that they play beautiful classical music for all to enjoy while shopping.  I know I can always count on Fresh Market to provide amazingly beautiful fresh cut flowers and at any time of year.

For the arrangement, I used a rose bouquet from the market,  plus a mixed-flower bouquet,  and a little baby's-breath mixed in, along with the addition of the Easter Bunny since we are only one week away from Easter.

This ceramic Easter Egg made for a nice vase for some Azaleas from the yard.   This arrangement is sitting on the fireplace mantel in the dining room as an added floral decoration during the Garden Club brunch.

I painted this ceramic Easter Egg candy holder many years ago when the children were very young ... So as I think about it, we have had this dish for a very long time.

Also, from Fresh Market are these lovely beautifully colored Tulips mixed in with Azaleas from the yard, and arranged in a pretty tea cup.  This little bouquet was made as an additional small floral arrangement for the coffee station.

The Easter Bunny made his way into the pictures also.  I could not resist taking his picture on this beautiful first day of Spring.  This too is an old family Easter decoration we have had since the children were very young.

After the meeting was over and the ladies were gone I brought the dining table arrangement into the kitchen.  We spend so much time in the kitchen I thought it would be appreciated more in this spot.

And, I placed this little tulip arrangement in different angles trying to get just the perfect picture.

The lighting is so good out on the front porch I placed this arrangement on the banister and snapped a couple of photos ... Don't you just love all those beautiful colors.  Yes, the good Lord is truly an amazing artist.

And, of course, I took the very colorful Azaleas out on the front 
porch as well in an attempt to better see all of their amazing colors as well.

Another view of the tea cup arrangement.

The lighting on the front porch banister nicely shows the bright pink of these beautiful roses.

You can see how the colors pop out so beautifully in this natural light.

And, in the below photo we see an arrangement of all "Pink Perfection" Camellias.  Years ago we planted this Pink Perfection tree in our side yard in memory of my sweet Mother who loved this Camellia. The tree has grown tall and beautiful and is always a reminder to me of my wonderful Mother and her love for these beautiful flowers.

This arrangement was placed on the coffee table during the Garden Club Meeting.

Unfortunately, this Pink Perfection Camellia tree does not show up too well in this photo.  There are not too many blooms on the second half of the tree which makes me wonder if the many deer who come into our yard have been having Camellia blossoms for lunch.

The below photos show the blossoms still on the tree ... It is understandable 
why they are called "Pink Perfection."

During my first day of Spring walk around the yard with the camera,  I wanted to include a picture of this adorable little tin birdhouse we found during a recent trip to the Orlando area.  We found this at the Old Time Pottery. 

From what I can find out there are 35 Old Time Pottery locations around the United States.  It is fun to visit there just to browse.  And, of course, you know you will find something to bring home.

I keep watching from the kitchen window to see if any birds stop in to take a look, but so far no one has moved in to this pretty new home.

This next photo is a photo of Easter Bunny's family member;  possibly his mother or even a sister.
Isn't she sooo cute with her pretty little Easter hat and colorful eggs in her basket.  She too was a "must have" from the trip to Old Time Pottery.  She is made out of colorful tin and can be placed in your garden area.

Easter Bunny's Mother or possibly his Sister!  

Well! Our Winter was not too bad this year.  We hardly had any freezing temperatures, which is very unusual for our North Florida location.  But it was cold enough to have some cozy fires in the fireplace and nice fresh cold temperatures to enjoy for awhile.

I sit in amazement at the changes Mother Nature can make in just a few days.  We go from what looks like black and white photos outside to the most amazing beautiful colors imaginable.

Beginning with Palm Sunday yesterday, many of us begin this amazing time of Holy Week.  I do wish you the most wonderful spirit-filled week leading up to this beautiful and scared time of Easter.

Wishing you a wonderful beginning of Spring and a happy and sacred 
Holy Week wherever you may be.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Making A Super Simple Family Recipe Book

Some of my fondest memories were days cooking in the kitchen with my Mother.  And, the most special memories of all were when we were in the kitchen together during the holidays.  My Mom would always ask me to taste this or that to see if she had enough seasoning, or if it tasted "just right."  And, of course, it always did.

Years later I remember asking my Mom to write down all of her special holiday recipes so I would be able to make them just like she did.  She did just that and I refer to them each holiday trying to prepare everything just as she did. She made the most wonderful memories of our family holidays and I was hoping to do the same for my family.

Year after year when it came time to cook my Mother's delicious recipes I always referred to my handwritten recipe notes.  This year I decided to put all those special recipes into a notebook for easier referral.  

A quick trip to Walmart helped me get all the supplies needed for this project.  The notebook seen in the below photo holds 8 1/2 by 11 copy paper,  which was a perfect size for printing the recipes.

Located close to the notebooks in Walmart I found these individual plastic
 paper holders that were just the right size for the notebook.

These individual plastic sheet protectors have an opening in the top 
for easily slipping copy paper into the top opening.

The front cover of the notebook was covered in heavy plastic with an opening in the top.  I already had Christmas stationary which had been purchased at Office Depot a couple of years ago. The stationary had a holiday pre-printed design that seemed appropriate.  I'm not a very literate computer person, but did figure out how to use some holiday logos pulled in from Clip Art.

Fortunately, I was able to copy a family photo and type a dedication page to my sweet Mother.
This is the first page seen in the Holiday Recipe notebook.

My dear Mother has been gone now for many years.  We all loved her dearly.  It is nice to feel her presence as I remember her gentle guidance through the years.  And, I always especially feel her presence each holiday as I work in the kitchen preparing her wonderful recipes.

Over the years as in-laws came into the family and our daughters developed ideas of their own, we added to our holiday menu list.  Each year when my daughters and I get together to plan our holiday dinners, this printed menu which is included in the notebook helps us remember what we wish to make for that particular dinner.

The below photos show some of the holiday recipes 
included in our Holiday Recipes and More collection.

My Mother did not make Macroni and Cheese for the holidays, but our daughter Stephanie began making this delicious recipe for all holidays, birthdays and special events, and it is a hit with everyone.

I will always remember watching my Mother make 
her delicious Giblet Gravy for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And, her special Fruit Salad and Green Bean Casserole.

And her Ham Sauce and Pimiento Cheese and Celery.

One year at Christmas time my sister Betti sent our family some of her delicious Cashew Brittle.  Oh! My goodness! You cannot believe how delicious this is and I was so glad when she gave me the recipe, which is also included in our Holiday Recipe Collection.

Our grandson Dillon loves Chicken Pot Pie.   We made this for his 13th birthday party dinner.   In the photo below we see this recipe is included in the Collection along with a photo of Dillon, friends and family on his special day.

We included many family favorite recipes as well.
Below you will see daughter Sharon's Oatmeal Cookies.

My Mother made the most delicious Potato Salad when we were growing up.  I never did write down her recipe, but recently found a Southern Style Potato Salad recipe that tastes just like her delicious Potato Salad.

Included below are two more special recipes.  The Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce was a gift to us at Christmas one year from our daughter's mother-in-law....it is amazing.

And, grandson Preston helped me make this delicious Morning Glory Muffins recipe one day while he was visiting.  This is another wonderful recipe.

There are lots and lots more recipes included in this notebook.

The pages in this notebook are not numbered.  Our daughter Sharon had a good idea to help organize and be able to more easily find a recipe.  She suggested insertable tab dividers for menu categories such as breakfast, main meals, desserts, pies, cakes, etc.  One day I'll get around to adding those dividers.

This notebook is such a simple idea for better viewing of favorite recipes and also a very inexpensive project. You probably have already thought of this convenient recipe storage system, but if not, I hope there is a bit of inspiration here for you.

This evening before we go to bed is the time we set our clocks "forward."  As they say, "Spring forward."  And, can you believe there are only 8 more days until the first day of Spring.

Wishing you special blessings as we move into this last official week of Wintertime.

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Quick Trip To New York City

Have you ever been to the big city of New York?  We did make a trip there many years ago when our children were teenagers.  At that time we were fortunate enough to see many of the more well know sights of New York City such as the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations Headquarters, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Chinatown, and more. 

Our daughter and grandson recently had business to take care of in New York and she was sweet enough to ask us to come along.  Fortunately, we were free and could make the trip with them.  

I seriously thought about taking my "good" camera along on this trip in hopes of trying to get some  pretty photos while we were in "the big city."  The weather forecast changed my mind in favor of the point-and-shoot and the iPad instead.

Walking along the streets close to Times Square it was delightful to see this lovely flower market right out on the street.  It was freezing cold, but the flowers looked like they were surviving nicely.

We had reservations at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in the heart of Times Square.  Our room was on the 44th floor. One of the first things I did after arriving in the room was to take a photo of the street below in the heart of Times Square.  As you can see there were lots of taxis way down on the street.

The below photo was taken on the main street in Times Square.  We were told this is the very spot where the New Years Eve ball drop occurs which is located on a flagpole at the top of the building you see in the distance.

According to Mr. Google the Times Square area is known as "the world's heart and it's crossroads."
And,  it is known as "the world's busiest pedestrian intersection."  That sure must be true because I have never seen so many folks in one place in my life and it was not even a holiday.

One of the places our daughter wanted to visit was the restaurant called "Carmines."
We enjoyed a wonderful family-style Italian dinner there at Carmines.

Another view from outside the hotel window.

After our daughter and grandson finished their appointments for the day 
everyone decided to go see the Broadway production of "Wicked."

It was absolutely freezing outside and we were delighted when we returned back to the hotel. 

I tried to get good photos inside of the hotel, but the lobby was so huge and the elevators so fast,  it was hard to get a really good picture.  The elevators looked like miniature space ships and were so much fun to ride on all the way up to the 44th floor.

I looked online and found this really good video of some folks riding on the elevators and taking a video at the same time ... You can get a very good idea of what it was like to ride on the elevators.  If you would like to see the video you can click on the link below:

These are not the best photos, but if you watch that video above you can see 
just how amazing these elevators are.

This photo gives you an idea of how large the lobby of the hotel really is ... to give a good perspective you can see the guests sitting in the bottom right part of this photo.

We all made reservations to have dinner at "The View" 
which is a revolving rooftop restaurant at the Marriott Marquis .

It was a real treat to sit at our table in the restaurant and watch the city sights.

New York City is the most densely populated major city in the United States and has been the largest city in the US since the year 1790.  There are as many as 800 different languages spoken in New York.  And another interesting fact is that New York City hosts 56 million tourists a year.

As we all enjoyed a very delicious dinner in the revolving restaurant,  the sun began to go down,  and the city looked so pretty as the lights began to come on down below.

I could not resist getting photos of the delicious desserts seen on a close by buffet.

In the below photo you can get an idea of the dense traffic in the city.

As we walked out on the south side entrance of the Marriott Marquis this is a view we would see.  If you look closely you can see the "Juniors" restaurant which is directly across the street from the hotel.

It was freezing cold, but it was still fun to walk across the street for a nice lunch at this delightful restaurant.  If you are ever in the Times Square area you would really like this casual and relatively inexpensive restaurant.  

Yum ... I ordered one of my favorites, a tuna sandwich,  as you can see in the below photo.  The hostess also brought delicious cole slaw and a side order of beets which were complimentary.

The restaurant is known for their "Cheesecake" and I did order some, 
but it was so good,  I totally forgot to snap a photo.

Can you believe I actually found the recipe for "Junior's Cheesecake" 
on the internet,  and if you would like to have this recipe you can click on the link below.

We were in New York City for just a short period of time, but it was still lots of fun and very exciting being in the hustle and bustle of the "big city."  

Wishing you a happy last little bit of Wintertime and many blessing wherever you may be.