Monday, December 30, 2013

Look Through Any Window

I have always found this time of year to be one when I spend a lot of time reflecting.  
I don't think I spend as much time looking back as I do looking forward ~ New Year's 
always has this effect on me.  It happens every year, right after Christmas.
Looking is the key word for me. 
 Looking inside to examine my heart for necessary changes.  Changes of attitudes, 
changes in my thought life, the kind of changes that only God and I know need changing.
 Looking outward at how I want to spend my time.  What things need to 
go to make room for higher priorities.

Many are reluctant to set New Year's resolutions, but looking inward or outward 
is always challenging.  We can always find areas of our lives that need shuffling, 
rearranging, discipline, or just plain editing.  Some changes are hard work 
and some bring pure joy.
New Year's to me is permission to start over with a clean slate. 
Just pondering ~ what do I want to write on my slate this year?

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Wintery Centerpiece

It all started when I brought my gazebo bird feeder into the house to 
dry out so I could repaint it.  
I had heard you shouldn't feed wild birds where your chickens roam, so I wasn't sure what to do about feeding the birds this year.  I've had this feeder that sits on a fence post in the front yard for years now and rarely use it.  I brought it in to fix up and repaint so I could start feeding the hungry birds in the front yard out of range of the chickens.  
But . . . once inside, other ideas came to mind.

At first I thought I'd just play around with some greens from the yard.  Something I could do a post on before repainting it, because I already had a table centerpiece.
A simple fresh wreath with a few pine cones from my walks and a globe and candle in the center.  It was perfect and smelled so heavenly.
It matched my hutch which I kept the same from Thanksgiving, but just removed the fall decor and added faux greens in their place.   Simple and easy.
Greenery and pine cones are the perfect compliments for brown transferware.
And so there was no need for another centerpiece.  And I was just really playing around anyways before pulling out the white paint.

I started by tucking in some greens from the yard, followed 
by a few twigs and dried hydrangea.

Before I knew it, I had fallen in love with 
my new centerpiece, and I knew it had usurped the wreath.

So, it's settled.  This new centerpiece will stay past Christmas and into the winter months (the wreath was drying out and had lost it's yummy smell anyways).  And as for the birds ~ I'll move the feeder from the back yard to the front yard so they won't go hungry ~ and we'll all be happy.
Linking with
Stone Gable for The Scoop


Christmas at the Office

This is my little Christmas tree at work.  It sits on the ledge in front of my
 desk where I can see and enjoy it all day long.
I've had this wire tree for at least twenty years and it has held everything from Easter to Halloween decorations.  But the last few years, it has gone to the office to keep me company there.
The ornaments have been collected over the last ten years from here and there, and many of them have special friends and memories attached to them.
I love the ones that look like candy.  This one even has a paper wrapper like 
it was just plucked from a box of chocolates.
Every tree needs a football, especially if you work for The Ohio State University 
and are crazy about your football team.
It's a compact tree, but holds more ornaments than you would imagine.  It has always been a conversation piece at the office and some employees even have trouble keeping their hands off of the little guys.
Years ago, before every branch was full, I used to quiz those stopping by my desk to see if they could pick out the newest arrival.
And here it is with our large office tree in the background.
Between the two trees, we have quite a festive atmosphere to work in.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Favorite Holiday Appetizer

This is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday appetizer.  I make it every
 Christmas Eve for our family gathering.
But this year, I made it for an office Thanksgiving dinner and nearly everyone begged for the recipe. Who knew it would be so popular?  So I decided to share it with you all in case you're looking for a crowd pleasing appetizer.
It's super easy and you make it the day before which means no last minute prep.
In these photos, I am showing it for "picture sake only" with the crackers served on the same dish.  Normally I serve the crackers on the side so they don't get soggy from the marinade.
Southwestern Cheese Appetizer
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 (7.5 oz) jar roasted sweet red peppers, drained & diced
3 green onions, minced
3 T. chopped fresh parsley
3 T. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
8-oz block of sharp Cheddar cheese, chilled
8-oz block of Monterey Jack cheese with peppers, chilled
8-oz package cream cheese, chilled
Wisk together the first 3 ingredients until mixture is blended; stir in the diced red peppers and the next 6 ingredients.  Set marinade aside.
Cut the block of Cheddar cheese in half lengthwise.  Cut halves crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.  Repeat with Monterey Jack cheese and cream cheese.
Arrange cheese slices alternatingly in a shallow baking dish, standing slices on edge.  Pour marinade over cheeses.  Cover and chill at least 8 hours.
Transfer cheese to a serving plate and spoon remaining marinade over the top.  Serve with your favorite crackers, (I use Ritz crackers).
Linking with
Common Ground for Be Inspired    

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas on the Porch

Back at the beginning of November, I wrote a post about hating to put away my porch decor and it looked like this next photo.  It's hard to believe that just 6 weeks ago, things were still that green.
To be honest, I didn't put away the pitcher of flowers until just last week.  They sat 
there through several snow storms before I had the heart to bring them in.  
But it looked so bleak out there it made me sad.  
Then I got the bright idea of putting a live green wreath 
on the table with a vase of ornaments.
How that simple decoration brightened up the whole porch.
With the white porch and snow for a back drop, the red and white ornaments brought the perfect pop of color to the room.
 I didn't add anything else to the simpleness of my porch decor because I thought it made a statement all by itself.  Pretty pillows and throws would have been beautiful, but my porch is screened and it gets pretty dirty and wet out there.  "Simple" and "using what I have" are what I'm striving for this year and I have found that look to be the perfect solution to unnecessary overspending.
Now every time I head out the back door with the dog to feed the chickens, 
I smile at the Christmas cheer on the porch.
Speaking of chickens, the girls are doing well with the cold weather and snow.  Being new at keeping chickens, I tend to worry about everything and could they handle the extremely cold weather we're having this winter.
 This is Maggie Mae.  She's the newest addition to the flock and she has lots of "fluff" to keep her warm.

 This is Wendy.  She's the smart one of the group and my only egg layer.  But with the shortened hours of daylight, she has stopped laying for the winter.

This is Sally who wouldn't pose for a picture.  I call her Sinister Sally because she is always sneaking around like a detective and stalking everyone who comes into the yard.  
And last, but not least is my Lucy Lu.  Lucy was very sick this summer and it took a month on four medications to get her back to health.  She's my sweetie and I probably worry most about her.
I pamper my girls and on the really cold days, they get oatmeal or scrambled eggs in the morning.  Their coop was made from part of my greenhouse, and for the winter when they are stuck inside, I opened up the greenhouse to them so they'll have more room to roam.  They like the extra light and warmth of the greenhouse and they seem as happy as cooped up chickens can be in the winter.
Yeah, they are spoiled, but happy and healthy chickens make for a happy me.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Soft & Vintage Christmas

I don't do much in the form of Christmas decorating in my bedroom, except for this small collection of soft pink vintage ornaments that I found at Scott's Antique 
Market a few years ago.  

Scott's comes to Columbus every winter and they always have a wonderful selection of vintage ornaments to pick from.  They are hard to resist when many of them are only $1 each.  I use the pink ones in my bedroom, but I have blue ones for my office and green ones for my kitchen.

They add a sweet softness to the room, especially when mixed with
 mercury glass and tarnished silver.

Simple, sweet, and softly vintage.

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