Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Real Winter Comfort

Anything can contribute to a spring-in-winter mood--an understanding friend, great words in an enduring book, the sound of music or laughter, the inner silence when the emotionally cold world holds its breath, a job that must be done, or helping someone in greater difficulty than yourself.
Faith Baldwin in Harvest of Hope

Blog friend Nan of Letters from a Hill Farm motivated me to get out my 1920s women's magazines when she wrote about the real Roaring 20s.

I've kind of ignored my 1920s magazines, focusing more lately on the 1930s when our house was built and what the people who built it might have been experiencing. And I always naturally am led to the 1940s and 1950s, what I consider a more romantic time period. 

But the 1920s were fascinating too, that jazzy age before the October 24, 1929 Wall Street crash. I find that I'm curious about the homemakers of that decade, wondering about the similarities and the differences between them and myself.

But that's for another discussion. Today I'm interested in Real Winter Comfort and what we can do to bring it on!

This full color ad for insulation is from my January 1929 issue of The American Home. Isn't it gorgeous?

I could list all the things that speak of comfort to me in this picture, including the purple dress she's wearing (extra points with me for that and its cuddly feather trim), but why don't you tell me what's comfy and cozy in this picture?

And tell me what you are doing to bring yourself Winter Comfort!

While you're considering that, here's what Ella, Dimity, and Winnie think about January comfort in Miss Read's Battles At Thrush Green. 

'And now we've January to look forward to,' sighed Ella. 'Talk about the January blues! What with the bills, and the general damp and gloom, and so long to wait for spring--it does get one down!'
'I cheer myself up,' said Dimity, 'by tidying a cupboard. It makes me feel so virtuous and efficient.'
 'I buy a new pair of shoes,' said Winnie.
'A packet of bourbon biscuits pep me up,' said Ella. 'Or putting out a new tablet of soap. Very therapeutic, putting out a new tablet of soap, I find.'

The floor is all yours, friends and family--and I'd faint if any family did comment! Some of them do read it though so I always write as if they are.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A Dumb New Year's Day Question

Whoa! This ad from a 1928 magazine made me do a double take. I flipped back to the page several times.

How many years older will I be next New Year's Day?

Well, God willing and the creek don't rise, I'll be another year older, right? And you will be too?

Of course I get it--if I drink Postum instead of coffee then I'll be younger than otherwise, that's what the ad is trying to say. 

If I give up this and give up that, I'll age more slowly. If I do this and don't do that, ditto.

But, in January? The month that follows Christmas?

As Abbie Graham says in Time Off and On, "I am not wholly committed to January. I do not entirely trust it as a month." Can I at least wait until Easter's carrot cake is made, frosted with cream cheese, and nibbled, savoring each bite?

But I'm willing to approach this question from another tack. How many wonderful healthy things can I cook in January? 

Lots of things, beginning with the traditional New Year's Day dish of Collards!

Say you don't like collards? Maybe you'll like my recipe that is an old Gourmet magazine one:

I skip the bacon now and jump straight to cooking chopped onions, any color. Then I stir a tablespoon of brown sugar into the onions and caramelize them a little, stir in a good sprinkle of dried hot red pepper flakes--have you tried this brand?

 I get them from Amazon and they are amazing!

Then I add a little apple cider vinegar and a box of good chicken broth. You've already washed your collards, of course. Triple washed them because who wants to get any grit in their collards?

 Cut the toughest part of the stems out, bunch and slice them and add to the hot pot and toss and wilt and slow cook all afternoon, add salt and pepper and you have one fine mess of greens and pot liquor that will put strength and vigor in your body. 

 Don't believe me, just read here!

Just don't be like Fred Sanford and eat them when they're eight days old. They don't last that long in our house.

On New Year's Day we'll have a pork loin roast with sauerkraut (sharing an extra one with family), black-eyed peas, and Pioneer Woman's Stuffed Baked Potatoes, and some Cranberry Jalapeno Relish. And collards, naturally, with a spoonful of my hot pepper vinegar over them.

What are you having for New Year's Day?

Blessings in 2020, dear friends and family! And all kidding aside, I wish for all of us to be as young as healthily possible next New Year's Day. 



Thursday, December 26, 2019

Oh, no! The Big Christmas Let Down has arrived!

For one special night RH and I had all four children together at one time! And their spouses, minus one daughter-in-law. 

And two of our four grandsons--only one in the picture above as the other took his wife and their two toddlers home before the picture was taken.

And our two granddaughters, front and center.

But the whole holiday period was filled with special family activities and lots of laughter and late night talks and days of cooking and dish washing.

It was so much fun!

And then the out of towners went home and the in towners went back to work today.

Guess who's left with the Big Christmas Let Down? 

That's right, I am. And yes, I know this picture is out of focus but then, so am I.

Anyone else out there feeling the Big Christmas Let Down?

What helps you get over it?

Do you take down all your Christmas decor rapidly?

I'm not that person, can't bear to say goodbye to it yet. I'm too much of a little girl playing house to pack it away yet.

RH and I just have to keep watching Christmas movies until we see all we missed. That is, when I can get him away from the Military Channel--what is it with that? Anyone else out there have a guy who's addicted to that channel?

I'm going to keep using the Christmas china at least through New Year's Eve.

[See how a platter lover stores platters in a small house? She doesn't!]

And there are at least a dozen holiday recipes I never got around to that I want to make between now and Twelfth Night. 

And as soon as I rest up I want to get out with my sister for some retail-on-sale therapy. We tried to the other day but only got as far as lunch out--don't worry, sis, I'll never tell why!

And there's always housework, which for some strange reason is unusually appealing to me now. Do you find that true after Christmas, too?

And then there is the siren call of early bedtimes and good books to read. So appealing!

It's not that Christmas itself was a let down, unlike Marcy in the quote below from Nelia Gardner White's The Thorn Tree.

Marcy sat alone with the tree, all the sound gone, everything gone but the tree. When David came in much later she still sat there, alone, quiet. David sat down with his coat still on. "Christmas," he said flatly. "I don't know what we expected of it," Marcy said.

I remember experiencing a couple of Christmases like Marcy has and I'm so grateful my let down is of a different kind. To anyone who did experience that, I'm so sorry. My piddling complaint must seem ridiculous to you. I hope that things get better soon for you.

To those of you who leave the holidays behind with a big smile on your face, what is your secret, you lucky dog, you?

But for anyone else just not ready to say goodbye to the wonderful cozy happy festive season of goodwill, what do you do to cheer yourself up? I am so very interested in your ideas!


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Poppy Was Right [or was she?] & November Catch Up

On my post of October 4th I asked help identifying a volunteer plant in our garden that had beautiful leaves. Poppy of Poppy View commented that the mystery leaves were lantana, just like the beautiful one in her garden. 

But did I have sense enough to believe my friend?

I'm ashamed to admit I didn't for the simple reason that the pot of lantana we had on our kitchen porch looked nothing like this plant, its leaves much shorter.

But Poppy, I think you were right even though the blooms look nothing like our other lantana. 

Maybe because the two flower buds the plant put on in late October were stunted with frost? I cut the two buds and brought them inside and eventually they opened up to these blooms.

But one bloom--the first picture above-was white, not like the purple bloom, below, that is my favorite color of all.

Is that usual for a lantana? To have two colors on one volunteer lantana?

RH remembers two summers ago planting a purple lantana there. Did a seed lie dormant for two years and gift us with this beautiful plant in late autumn? 

Speaking of purple, here's the Goodwill hand towel I hung next to the vase of mystery flower.

 Why am I showing you a humble little $1.99 Goodwill hand towel? Because I'm wondering if any thrifters reading this ever lose their heart to such an inexpensive old towel in a thrift store?

I mean, I was as happy with that purchase as people are buying a brand new car. Anyone else out there understand? RH loves taking me to Goodwill because he says I'm such a cheap date, happy with an old purple towel. 

There's always room for more linens so I buy them instead of tsotchkes that I don't have room for.

 There's another thing sitting by the vase in the bathroom that also makes me very happy.

That cute little candle from Milkhouse Candles in their Sweet Tobacco Leaves scent! 

Karen of Over the Backyard Fence passed this candle company on to her readers and I'm doing it here because I love these candles so much--no they did not ask me to do this. I've lit three of their autumn scents for two months now and have three Christmas scents waiting for post-Thanksgiving, wonderful fragrances and they're soy-beeswax candles.

Here's their website!

Now for more November catch up pictures that should have been posted after our first freeze of the season. I am such a laggard.

 Did you go out in the garden gleaning all you could when the first freeze was predicted? Isn't it funny how we treasure those late autumn blooms? 

And did you notice those dill flowers hanging over the zinnias above?

I went crazy cutting dill before our first freeze.

I had big vases of it in our living room and bouquets of it in the kitchen. I faithfully changed the water every other day and snipped dill into everything but ice cream for a week. The house smelled wonderful!

And then the beautiful stalks just wilted and drooped and I reluctantly threw them out. 

I always seem to want to hold on to a little bit of the past season when it's time to move on to the next.

Our dusting of snow was on the pumpkins in the garden, and I've already begun decorating for Christmas, and yet I'm just not ready for all the pumpkins to be broken up and thrown out for the deer, possums, racoons, fox family and our one skunk who only has a white topknot, not a stripe down his or her back. 

Garden pumpkins are still there...

 But all the small white pumpkins in the house have been gathered up and saved for a Thanksgiving table. (The bat in the kitchen went back to his cave after Halloween.)

But at least I'll be willing to let the wildlife have all the pumpkins after Thanksgiving. There was a year at Valley View, our last Christmas there, that I was so in love with our orange pumpkins...

that I incorporated them into a pink, purple and orange Christmas theme in the kitchen. 

It was only on New Year's Eve that I was ready to tell my orange pumpkins goodbye and move to a crisp clean look for January.

Okay, time to fess up...have any of you begun decorating for Christmas? Maybe even finished?

Are the pumpkins still on your porch or does a Christmas wreath already hang on the door?

Or like me, is there a little of both?

Are any of you US readers knee deep in cooking Thanksgiving Day dinner?

Or have you chucked the whole thing and headed to Bora Bora like some people I know? 

Thrifters out there, what item do you most flip out over when discovered in thrift stores?

And Poppy dear, are you still convinced that this plant is a lantana? Because I'll feel really stupid if I proclaim it's a lantana and then someone else says "No way!" I promise to believe you this time.

Later: The mystery is solved! See Gretchen's comment below!


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

RH and the CMA Awards

Wednesday night at 7 p.m. CST, we'll be watching the CMA Awards, same as we do every year. 

And we'll think back to the CMA Awards of 1997 when RH was there.

Okay, maybe he wasn't exactly inside watching the show, but he made it as far as the Red Carpet with some pretty ladies on his arms. 

Walking up the carpet in a tuxedo.

Over and over.

A friend asked him and two of our sons to escort various lesser known attendees up the magic carpet before the celebrities arrived in their limousines.

So maybe he didn't actually get to see Garth Brooks win Entertainer of the Year but then neither did Garth, who was on the road.

He didn't get to see Trisha Yearwood sing How Do I Live (without you), used in the soundtrack from Con Air

And just think--eight years later Garth and Trisha were married, although that totally has nothing to do with RH, he says.

He really would have liked to have been inside that night to hear Deana Carter sing her Strawberry Wine or Shania Twain sing anything.  

But it was not to be, he was just another pretty face on the red carpet that night in 1997.

There was a rumor floating around that the crowd outside thought he was a millionaire Texas oil man.

Sounds about right to me.

So we will be watching the CMA Awards on November 13, 2019. I'm looking forward to seeing three female powerhouses host this year--Carrie Underwood, of course, but with Dolly Parton and Reba, who I understand will once again be singing Fancy. Will she be wearing the famous red dress again?

There are going to be some similarities with RH's special time back in 1997. Again Garth Brooks is nominated for Entertainer of the Year, and Brooks and Dunn are again nominated for Vocal Duo of the Year. Both won in 1997 but will they win again 22 years later when up against all the youngsters?

I must admit that I enjoyed watching this awards show more back in the days when Johnny Cash and June Carter were sitting in the audience and performing. The Man in Black and his wife were customers at our garden center. 

Those were the days when country music stars were our neighbors, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs living right across the street from us, with my best girlfriend living between them and Brenda Lee going to high school with us.

But RH and I will be watching the CMA Awards on ABC Wednesday night, by golly. Because that's what you do here in Nashville.

Will any of you be joining us?

[added 11/16/19: when I texted a link to our kids for this post, our youngest son wrote back that he and another guy managed to get backstage while Shania Twain was on stage rehearsing. They yelled and waved at her and she smiled and waved back at them!]

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Our Autumn Front Porch and 7 Year Blog Anniversary

Many thanks to everyone for your sweet wedding anniversary wishes on my previous post! 

On our anniversary I burst out laughing when I read my devotional for the day. David Zahl wrote about unconditional love:

Imagine if I locked my dog and my wife in the trunk of my car. After an hour, only one of them is going to be glad to see me.

That tickled my funny bone and it kind of reminds me of something I question anytime I publish a new post here at the Window after doing one of my disappearing acts for a few weeks, or in some cases months.

Will they still be glad to see me?

 Tomorrow will be seven years since I published my first blog post at Across the Way, here: https://awindow-lookacrosstheway.blogspot.com/2012/11/our-fledgling-flight.html

There have been times when I've stopped blogging for a while but I always came back. I even started this blog at the Window and thought I'd given up Across the Way only to end up keeping both going.

Going yes, sometimes sporadically, true.

I remember when I announced that I was leaving blogging at Across the Way and one friend asked if I could just check in occasionally, even quarterly. 

Sometimes I seem to be doing just that. Like all the things on our front porch, I'm not getting any younger. In fact we might even qualify as antiques.

We may soon even be obsolete.

There are occasions when we decide to pretty ourselves up a little.

 Pretend like we're still Spring Chickens.

Times when I ask RH to buy me a beautiful corsage.

He bought me two beautiful corsages for the porch for our anniversary and a trunk full of pumpkins for both porches, the back garden and the house. 

All without rushing me in my choices, following me around with a big cart as I wandered around the Nashville Farmer's Market, a special place to me as I'd gone there since a child with my little sisters and our father who bought produce for the middle Tennessee Kroger stores.

The best anniversary present ever!

RH also planted a new tree, (see picture above) his 4th Japanese maple since we moved here almost three years ago, his 12th new tree planted in the front yard alone--how's that for a man past the three-quarters of a century mark?

You can also see the new project he started behind the new Japanese maple. Not sure what it's going to be when he finishes it but a trailer full of beautiful rock sat on the grass in front of the park bench for two months while he pondered the design. 

I'd asked for a pretty sidewalk/path but I have a feeling this is going to be more than that. And it may be spring before it's finished as my guy started another project in our back yard that's now taking up his time.

Meanwhile, I decided the old girl--I'm talking about our front porch--deserved at least one new accessory, a pretty rug.

I spent hours online searching for one with just the right colors. I hope you like it because I am so in love with it!

Thank you so much for visiting here! Even when I sometimes play hide-and-go-seek with you. 

Old and cracked as I sometimes feel I still want to make like The Terminator and say...

I'll be back!