Thursday, July 29, 2010

ConKerr-ing Hero

After a month of jungle-like heat, the long, hot summer finally graced us with a beautiful cool and breezy morning. For the first time in weeks, I turned off the air conditioning and opened up all the windows.

Today my friend, Susan, was going to come over and we would sew pillowcases for a children's cancer charity called ConKerr Cancer - a Case for Smiles. In preparation I set up my sunroom with a work table, fabric and sewing tools. I then went into my kitchen and made us a lunch of Ham and Cheese Rolls, Broccoli Salad and, of course, Blueberry Tarts.

We worked and chatted in the fresh breeze flowing through the sunroom, ate lunch, and visited the new garden. Susan laughed at Duncan and Gracie's antics in the backyard. By the end of the afternoon, we had completed a dozen pillowcases.

It was such an enriching day for me that I'd like to encourage everyone to get together with friends to do something to help out a charity. Who knows - you could turn out to be someone's hero...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blueberry Tarts, Camille Tea and a New Garden!

I've been enjoying blueberries lately, so this morning I tried my hand at blueberry tarts made from scratch. By the time they were ready to sample, the ladies from Two Women and a Hoe had begun work on putting together my new garden. I'm still amazed on how fast they work!

Among the plants now residing in my garden are a pink Double Knock Out Rose, Coneflowers, Coral Bells, Shasta Daisies, Montana Rubens Clematis and an Annabell Hydrangea in addition to the veteran Lilac, Bridal Veil and Stella D'Oro.

One of the best things about this garden? It's almost maintenance free! Jan told me that I don't really need to do anything in it until next spring.

After they left the dogs and I went out to visit the garden. Duncan and Gracie loved the new scents they found there.

After taking a few pictures, we went back into the house. I sat in my sunroom, looking out at my new garden, drinking camille tea and eating a blueberry tart, with harp music playing in the background.

Does it get any more mellow than this?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Two Women and a Hoe

My gardening philosophy has always been, "If it can't survive neglect, it doesn't deserve to live." Yet, due to poor health, I've been unable to get out in my garden even to clear out the weeds all spring and summer. The more the garden became overgrown, the more it bothered me. Then last week I saw a truck in our neighborhood that advertised, "Two Women and Hoe." I smiled at the humor of it and drove by. Before I had finished my task and returned home, I had decided to give these women a call to see if they could lend me a hand in my garden.

My call was greeted enthusiastically by Jan. Within a few days she arrived at my house with her partner and they attacked my garden with energy and efficiency. In a very short time they had turned the jungle into good, clean earth and properly pruned bushes.

Jan had discussed with me several things we could plant to make the garden colorful and low maintenance. As I kept wandering back to the garden throughout the day and evening, I imagined the magic we could create in that fertile land. Each time as I walked back to the house, I pulled each weed I passed in the yard and picked up the twigs that had fallen from the tree. I looked around and saw little improvements I wanted to make.

The dogs have also been drawn to the garden. Gracie has always enjoyed the view from the highest level, but she has been avoiding it this year because of the tall weeds. Now she runs out to the garden almost as soon as she is let into the yard. (That is, as long as the grass isn't wet - she's doesn't like to get her paws dirty...)

As my home has been cleaned and organized these past couple of weeks, I've found that my attitude has been improved greatly. I've enjoyed not having things spill out of closets as I open them, and being able to find things without hunting for them. But my garden is the greatest joy of all. The best part is the anticipation of watching the garden being transformed by someone who really knows how to do it, and who is willing to create something that I will be able to take care of properly myself once it is done.

Thanks, Two Women and a Hoe!

Monday, July 19, 2010


I hate giving up on something just because it's broken. So when the TV suddenly went black when we were watching it, we called the company that held our maintenance contract. To my dismay, the contract had expired just four days before! The cost of having someone just look at it was astounding, and then there would be labor and parts to pay for. So the decision was made to buy a new TV.

We came home with an "LG" model. The picture is bright, clear, and much sharper than the old TV. But my favorite thing about it, is the logo that pops up when you turn it on. "LG - Life's Good." A couple of times every day I see "Life's Good." It's a great reminder to take the time to appreciate all the wonderful things in my life: my husband, my dogs, my harps, and especially the time I now have to relax and truly enjoy them all.

Life's good.

I hope I can keep this TV a very long time...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


So this is what it means to relax.

After spending my entire adult life watching the clock, counting the days, trying to beat deadlines, knowing that I have a finite amount of time to complete each task - I am beginning to realize that my life is finally my own.

I've been planning projects around the house for years. But each time I have a few days off of work, I'm rushing around in an effort to achieve everything I've planned to do and not getting it all done. Now that I don't have deadlines, I'm finding that I'm getting more done.

I love this!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day One

I hate to call it "retirement," because I'm simply too young. However, the opportunity presented itself, and I eagerly took the leap.

I've got a lot of work to do to get my health back in order. My first step in this was to make an appointment with a surgeon to remove my malfunctioning gall bladder. For that, I'll have to wait until the end of July. So in the meantime...

A special diet is in order. One that is very rich in iron to boost my severely low levels, and very low in fat to quiet my gall bladder. Now, I don't cook. It's not that I can't cook - I just didn't have the energy at the end of the work day. I still don't have the energy. After a morning walk in the park with my husband and dogs, I barely was able to eat lunch before falling asleep. I woke feeling even weaker, but determined to cook a dinner that might make tomorrow a better day. I'm so glad I did! I had found a recipe for Beet and Spinach Soup that I love and have to share!

1 small onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 large carrot, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 celery ribs, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
6 cloves garlic, minced (I skipped this - I just don't like garlic)
1 large beet, shredded (about a cup)
4 cups fresh, chopped spinach or 1 cup frozen spinach
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon dried dill
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
plain yogurt for garnish, option

In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in 1 tablespoon of water. Cook until the onions and garlic are translucent. Add beet, spinach, broth, dill vinegar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer 10 - 14 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

I'll be sitting down to my harp later this evening. I'm looking forward to ending "Day One" with some gentle music before bedtime.