Friday, September 28, 2012

Fiesta - It's about the little things

I have always loved these colorful plates. My love for them started at Grandma Neff's house in East Petersburg, PA.  They were the family's daily plates going back to when my mother was a child.

I got my hands on some of my favorite pieces from her collection at the family sale years ago (thanks to the generous bidding of my parents).  I am honored to have a cobalt blue mixing bowl and a complete cobalt blue place setting along with a nice collection of dinner plates from her collection.

Last year I decided it was time to add some color to my daily living and received much of my new collection as Christmas gifts. I created a mix of color similar to my Grandmother's.  I love that it brings a smile to my face even when I am washing dishes.  The variety of color is refreshing to me. They are more durable than I expected and they are made in West Virginia.

(OK... now I'm in trouble. In looking up their site to link to this blog, I have discovered pieces that I didn't know existed. Guess they'll go on this year's Christmas list.)

Looking back it strikes me that my Grandmother was a no nonsense, straight forward, no frills kind of woman, yet her daily plates highlighted her colorful side. A side that we only have truly come to appreciate in her passing this week.  It is yet another example of how she blessed me in the example of how she lived her life. Keep your eyes on the details because it really is about the little things.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Maternal Ties

4 Generations - Mom, Grandma Neff, Emma Rose & me

I have been fortunate. I have known all of my Great Grandparents and Grandparents on my Mother's side of the family. 

I remember each of them... their of oddities, mannerisms, and presence.  They each left a piece of them with me by showing me what was important to them.  Over time, as we said goodbye to each one, they each taught me about loss.  I am coming to realize that one of the blessings of knowing all of them is that I have been through the grieving process at different parts of my life.  At each passing I have grieved differently, because of who they were and who I was at the time. 

Great Grandparents Clyde & Emma Weaver and
Grandpa & Grandma Neff (standing right)
In the last 24hours I have come to reflect on the loss of my Grandparents.  Looking back I realize that I was sad at each passing and the weeks after each one's funeral. But I have also realized I grieved the women in my life more emotionally.  Other than Grandmother, I didn't necessarily spend more time with either Great Grandmothers, yet my heart strings are pulled a little harder as I remember Great Grandma Anna Neff, and Great Grandma Emma Weaver. 

Great Grandparents Harry & Anna Neff
And now Grand Mother Anna Mary Neff is fading.  I find myself wanting to do things that are very uncharacteristic of most of our relationship. I want to hug her and cuddle up next to her in her hospital bed or brush her hair. She is the one I was closest to, but most of our relationship was over shelling peas, reading good night stories when we stayed over, or watching her braid her hair in the morning to put up under her covering.  Over the last couple years Grandmother connected with Emma Rose, even reading to her enthusiastically at one visit in the last year.

Whatever comes in the next few weeks, I will find comfort in knowing that I am blessed that I can reflect on the the Grandparents who helped shape who I have become, and the memories of the women whom I'd admire and love most, as only a granddaughter can.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Love on the Line

I love putting laundry on the line on pretty days.

There is something calming and nostalgic about the time it takes to hang the clothes and wait for them to dry (although on a nice summer day, it doesn't take long). 

I know that Mom hung clothes on the line and as kids we would pretend that we couldn't be seen between the lines in our magical world.  That play wasn't exclusive to home.  I remember playing dolls between the clothes lines at the Wise's home too.  There is just something magical about cloth hanging outside. No wonder it calms me when I take a moment to really breathe in the moment.

I washed the quilt Mom gave me for Christmas on a day that was perfect for putting it out on the line to dry.          

Talk about wonderful. 

The top was started by Catherine Crickenberger from scraps Mom gave her to use.  The scraps are from projects that Mom had done over the years and clothes she had made for us.  When Catherine wasn't able to piece anymore, the sections of blocks came back to Mom and were stored away for a long time.  Last year Mom got them back out and finished piecing them. She ended up with two queen size quilts, one for me and one for my sister.  Special doesn't even begin to describe this quilt. 

As it hung on the line it brought back all those playful memories from a childhood that seems so long ago.  Love on the line... that's just how it felt to look at it on that bright summer's day.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pig A Pancake - a lesson in rolling with the punches.

I had decided to make buckwheat pancakes for breakfast.  A friend of mine got us the mix at the Maple Festival in Highland County several months ago.  I love buckwheat pancakes and hadn't taken the time to make them yet.  It sounded like a great idea and Emma was easy to convince that pancakes would be better than cereal this morning.

At the mere suggestion of making pancakes, Emma began quoting the book 'If You Give A Pig A Pancake' by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond
Emma was ready to make another book real! 

I mixed the buckwheat mix according to the directions, including the yeast, and waited.  Nothing happened.  I mean nothing.  It was a nasty grainy mess!

So plans had to change.  Emma was anticipating pancakes.  Cereal would not do the trick now, at least not without a lot of convincing.  I reached into the pantry for Plan B... some good ole reliable Bisquick.

Ah Bisquick, the cure all for pancake, waffle, or biscuit fails.  When all goes wrong, there is Bisquick.  I mixed it up in my Grandmother's glass serving bowl just so I didn't feel like I was totally selling out.  Everything went smoothly after Bisquick entered the picture.  The pancakes cooked up beautifully and Emma had a great filling breakfast that brought yet another book to life for her.

I received a lesson in rolling with the punches and making the most of every moment (even when they don't go the way you think they should).

Monday, July 9, 2012

Planting Tomatoes

Earlier this spring was beautiful. 


Not this sticky oppressive Summer heat that keeps us from wanting us to wander out into our gardens.


Emma and I made the most of those days.

We picked dandelions and made clover crowns. 

And because everyone said we couldn't plant 'out' yet and I had the strong urge to plant SOMETHING... 

...we took to planting seeds in little recycled yogurt cups.

We poked holes in the bottom of the yogurt cups with a granny fork.  Filled them halfway with dirt... then seeds... then a little more dirt.

Watering was a bit tricky since I didn't think to pre-moisten the soil but together we figured out a little slower watering system and made it work.

To be honest these particular plants are still by far the smallest in the garden, but we love them. We gave them their start together. Time will tell if we really get 'fruits' from our labor.  But I'm not sure it matters, the planting was so much fun any fruit will be a bonus.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Giving Tree - bringing books to life

 Reading 'The Giving Tree' by Shel Silverstein became Emma's favorite book for our bedtime story several weeks ago. I love reading it as much as Emma loves hearing it. The story is a wonderful contrast of selfishness and selflessness. It is also a reminder of how we can deplete our resources almost without thinking.

I love to bring books to life whenever I can for Emma. She actually gave me the idea of bringing books to life when she wanted muffin mix on a grocery shopping trip after reading 'If You Give a Moose a Muffin' by Laura Joffe Numeroff.

One afternoon I decided to make her a leaf crown to play 'king of the forest'.

I used the same technique with the leaves that I use to make clover crowns and it worked well. It was actually easier for me with leaves, a bit sappy, but easier.

I don't know how other people make them, but I french braid the stems trying to always introduce the new stem from the right side.  The leaf crowns last longer than the clover ones. Emma had fun wearing it, but had to share with her baby Belle doll. Guess I'll have to make two next time.

What books are your kid's favorites and have you thought of how to bring them to 'life'?

Monday, June 25, 2012

95% of My Life

Before I get too much further into this blogging thing I want to make one thing clear. What you will see on this blog is 5% of my life. So many times I look at someone elses blog and say 'how wonderful their life must be!' But I have to remember a little saying that came to my attention a few months ago... "The grass is greener on the other side, because it is fertilized with bulls$%t" (please excuse the language) But it makes the point like nothing I have ever heard. We spend so much of our time looking at other people and seeing only the possitive when we all know there are negatives and challenges in everone's lives.

I do take the time to do some pretty cool stuff around my house and with Emma, but there are plenty of times when the laundry piles up and the floors are in desperate need of mopping and Emma is camped out in front of the Disney channel or her room is a wreck or the swarms of icky bugs are in the yard so you can't play in the yard.... you get the picture.

So it's a normal life, just so you know... I know.

Monday, June 18, 2012

My Cottage Garden

Having a 2 year old inspired me to actually put in a little cottage garden. It started in the area just outside the kitchen porch in 'flower beds' that had been overtaken with the bushes. My husband took the bushes back to almost nothing and I hacked at the dirt and cut through years of the old bushes root systems.

When I say 'hack', I mean that I have this hatchet type garden tool that I use to work up the dirt. I couldn't really till since there are so many roots, but 'the hacking' is good anger management. Mom came and helped with the edging and Emma is happy to just play in the dirt with her little shovel.

It seems that I can't undertake something unless it's going to be a challenge. And I don't tend to do things the traditional way. What fun would that be?

As our little garden grows, I will keep you updated. I can not wait till Emma is picking cherry tomatoes off the vine.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Unanticipated Blankie

I have wondered how children choose a blankie or a lovey.  I would have thought that having a child and seeing her every day that I might be able to figure out how they come to love one special token.

Yeah right...

Emma has rotated from one special kitty, to a doll baby, and then another special kitty. I kid with my friends at Pufferbellies Toys and Books, that they must put something akin to catnip for kids on their toys because all 3 special things so far have been from their store.

The new lovey that has totally surprised me is her love of a knitted washcloth. It has never been used as a washcloth. Her Nana knitted it and gave it to her as a doll blankie, but she carries it with her most places and sleeps with it most every night.


So the mystery still stands. 
How does an object become a lovey? 
It's a question that may never be answered.