Glimpse of Yesterday

Glimpse of Yesterday

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Intentional Living

The more I live in an information saturated world, the more I long for the simpler, quieter days of yesteryear.  Yes, information is empowering, and the importance to know the truth is life-saving, but it can be quite overwhelming.  The world seems to be spinning faster, and all forms of media and social media seem to be telling me what I should be doing.

I feel as though the world around me is scrambling.  Scrambling, like a mischief of mice, for this, that, and everything else.  What ever happened to just living in the moment?  Living for today?  I'm not talking about being ignorant in the ways of financial savings, or being devoid of work or personal goals. 

Does anyone ever have a casual conversation?  One that is non-political or judgmental of any....thing, person, political group, religion, or lifestyle? 

Is anyone doing anything that 'everyone' else is not doing?  I find myself attracted to the mundane - diy (do-it-yourself) projects, cooking recipes, my new interests in homemaking skills such as sewing and knitting.  I want the days of old where the most shocking revelation of my day is that the price of bread has gone up (again).  I want to drink tea out of my vintage teacup and listen to the excited chatter of the birds outside.

I want the satisfying feeling of knowing that we have all that we need and enjoy the humble lifestyle we have been blessed with without society trying to convince me that my car isn't fancy enough, my complexion isn't youthful enough, my house isn't big enough, and we need to spend our hard earned money on a vacation that "everyone" else is taking.

I want to remember what it's like to not be able to watch television after midnight.  To have to go to the store or run errands without anyone being able to call me on my cell phone.  To have to use a paper map to find an unfamiliar location.  To feel accomplished and grateful for my clean clothes that are dried by the warm sun and a gentle breeze.  To be thankful for a well-stocked pantry that gives me a good meal, even though it may not rival one from Olive Garden or a fancy restaurant.

I want things to go a bit slower.  I want everyone to take a deep breath.  I want everyone to be kind - not because it's trendy or because a quote from Pinterest tells us to.  I want manners to come back into fashion.  I want parents to not only teach manners to their children, but to model it for them, as well.

Thankfulness, gratefulness, and kindness.  All can be possessed, but unless exercised, all can be lost.  They may not be trendy, fashionable, or popular, but all are a necessity, no matter how fast-paced our lives are.  I want to, no I need to, slow my steps, breathe, and mindfully make these things a priority in my life.  Again.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Burned Sweet Potatoes

One of my most favorite foods to eat are sweet potatoes.  I sometimes just eat one for lunch because they are just so huge and filling.  And super healthy for you, as long as they aren't completely smothered with butter....or marshmallows.

So, I had three sweet potatoes hanging out in the pantry and they were getting a little rough looking.  A little dimply, as though may begin sprouting those dreaded 'eyes'.  I had the great idea of wrapping them in foil and popping them into the oven to bake while I tended to packing some of my Etsy store orders.  Easy peasy.  No need to set the timer, because did I **really** need a timer to tell me to take them out in 45 minutes?  Nah!  So, off I went.

Except.  Except that I shut myself in the other room, packing away, and having a great catch-up/quality time convo with my daughter.  It was great.  I was getting stuff done and all was right with the world.  You don't really notice how quickly time flies by when you're caught up in something, ever notice that?  Well, I open the door and step into the kitchen and, huh.  It kind of smells like that smell when something sugary is burned in the oven.  Hmm.  Oh, well.  Continue puttering and putting items away.  DRAT! NOW I remember.  Saved the sweet potatoes - they were quite delicious.  But NOT before they left some wonderfully hard, black clumps of burnt sweet potato juice on the bottom of the oven.  Ugh.

Good - sweet potatoes have been saved.  Bad - oven will have to be cleaned.  Moan.  Whine.  Whimper.

If you just figured out that one of my least favorite things to do is to clean the oven, then you are mighty clever.  I hate is because:

*because it's so dang hard to reach in to clean it without laying on the door to do so.
*because every time I have to clean it it's a horrible reminder that I never clean it.
*because I can't believe I actually use it enough for it to get dirty.
*because I'm afraid of the commercial oven cleaners*.

*afraid of commercial oven cleaners? Yes.  I'm afraid because I have a gas stove and I think the house will blow up.  I'm afraid because I'm not convinced that all of the cleaner will be cleaned from the oven and will poison our food.  I'm afraid that they'll be over spray and my dog will lick it and die.

I think I have purchased one can of commercial oven cleaner once in 27 years of marriage.  I'm terrified to use it.  Sometimes, if I whine effectively enough, my wonderful husband will clean the oven for me.  Not because he loves me, but because he loves to eat and wants the oven to work when he's hungry.

So, this time, as I looked into the cold, burned sugar encrusted orifice that is the oven, I was determined to clean it without whining and without the commercial cleaner.  I sprayed the interior with a mixture of vinegar, water, and natural dish soap.  I then sprinkled baking soda all over the surfaces to be scrubbed.  I let is rest for about 30 minutes, and then used a bucket of warm water and a sponge to scrub it all.  The baking soda makes a paste and is just abrasive enough to break down all of the burned crustiness without damaging the oven's surface.  I won't tell you that the sponge and the bucket of water turned a horribly disgusting shade of brown - that would be gross.  I will tell you that I was pleasantly surprised at how clean my oven became and without the use of any chemicals.  A little elbow grease goes a long way, too.

Next time, I will be setting the timer when I pop a few sweet potatoes into the oven.  For sure.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Put Your Name on It

As a kid growing up in the 70's, all I wanted was to have something personalized with my name on it.  My friends all had their hair barrettes, pencils in different colors, pencil cases, and key chains.  Every where I looked I saw Susan, and Karen, and Linda....but Liane was no where to be found.  My family and some friends call me "Lee", but BUT in those days, Lee was considered a boy's name.  Sure, I could find Lee, but it had a sports theme or cars on it, or was blue.  It wasn't flowery and sparkly. 

Image result for stock photos of laverne defazio

I even was jealous while watching TV.  Even Laverne of Laverne and Shirley had that great big, beautiful, cursive L on all of her clothes.

So, I was one of those girls, who started a hope chest when she was 13, you know, dreaming of meeting her Prince Charming to come and sweep her off her feet so she could be a good, domesticated housewife.  I had everything - dishes, silverware (thanks to Betty Crocker), linens, doilies.... all that fun housewifey stuff.
Imagine my excitement when I went shopping one day, I think I was about 15 or so, and saw this beautiful mug.  I loved 'old fashioned' things even way back then, though I didn't yet know the word 'vintage'.  I remember gasping at this beautiful (yet, manly) mug that was screaming my name.  ^^^^That's the mug, up there - terrific, isn't it?  And it's MINE, ALL MINE, 'cause it says so.  Lee, that's me.

Nowadays, almost anything and everything can be personalized.  Who knew back in the 70s and 80s there would be this thing called online shopping, where you could get practically everything your heart desires?  It's probably a good thing I didn't have it available to me, now that I think of it....

So, here I am, 30+ years later, thoroughly enjoying a cup of tea from my very own mug that gave my teenage self an ego boost, while in my own home, in a marriage of 27 years, with 2 children and a 2nd grandchild on the way.

Oh, and now I'm getting other things personalized, but in a different way:
                                                         Necklace by beadtreasuresbylori

 I just love it when my own items become vintage without me even realizing it, and they have a pretty good story to boot.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Turn Back the Clock on Holiday Decorating

Over the years, I have done many different kinds of simple and frugal holiday decorations.  Of course, the 12' tall perfectly decorated, themed, ribboned, sparkled trees are gorgeous, but they're not my style.  I don't do themes.  I just want to be surrounded by things that I like and that I can afford.  I don't do after-holiday decoration shopping.  A lot of homemade or handmade decorations are special because they can be done in shared time with friends and family, or be made with items that are sentimental.

Just a few examples:

This is a fabric and button star ornament made by my sister-in-law, Brenda.  Every year, Brenda makes the most wonderful handmade ornaments as gifts.  This particular star was made with holiday fabric and a small piece of fabric from my late father's-in-law shirt.  It pretty, sentimental, and easy to make.

This >>>> is a wooden ornament, purchased at a craft store, and painted by my two-year old grandson.  He's at the age where he is learning his colors and using his fine motor skills.  He chose the colors and used a foam 'dot' brush to paint his ornament.  I'm sure it will be treasured by his mama and dada forever!

This is another ornament made by Brenda.  It's a large, wooden craft stick painted white and decorated with marker to be a snowman.  She added a black felt hat and red ribbon as the scarf.  My son has had this for many, many years.

To the right are these wonderfully scented pomanders that I made today with oranges and whole cloves.  That's it.  I just stuck whole cloves in any pattern that fancied me and now my house is filled with this lovely scent!  Whole cloves can be found in the spice aisle of the grocery store.

And don't forget the old stand-bys of holiday decorating: the paper chains, stringing of popcorn and cranberries into garland for the tree or to hang throughout the house, making garland from dried orange slices and cinnamon sticks, using small pine boughs and ribbon to make swags for many possibilities! 

What's wonderful about handmade decorations are the memories that are made during the creation process, the receiving as a gift, and the possible traditions that are formed from these handmade items.  Handmade items seem to have a way of bonding people together, even when there's a physical separation.  Generally, simple, handmade items cost significantly less than the pricey department store items (which also don't give you the warm and fuzzies).

Keep things simple.  Involve your significant other, your kids, and your friends and have some fun making some new memories on the frugal.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Do We Even Know What Thankfulness Means?

Today is Thanksgiving, and I'm sure that by this time of the day turkey has been carefully roasted, potatoes have been boiled and mashed, green beans have been transformed into a 'casserole', and pies aplenty have been baked to perfection and all consumed.

But, are we really thankful?  Are we thankful everyday, like we say we are, or do we just store it up for today - for a day off (for most), for a time of travel, for paltry pleasantries, for forced 'traditions', and family reunions?

Are any of us really acknowledging the help the Native Americans offered to the Pilgrims, without which the outcome of this country right now may be very different?  Do we recognize that, right now, Native Americans are doing what most of claim WE WOULD DO, which is exercise our rights as American citizens?  Be brave enough to protest peacefully?  To stand up to Goliath, so to speak?  Did you get hosed by freezing water today?  Did you have clean water to bathe in today, to drink with your massive meal?

We all love the heartwarming story of the woman who accidentally invited a total stranger to dinner, thinking she had texted her grandson.  How many of you would invite a total stranger, no matter their color, sexual orientation, political beliefs, physical appearance, health, income status or religious beliefs (or lack thereof)?

Do you put your money where your mouth is?  Do know what organizations you support and why?  Are you willing to help, really help, those less fortunate than you or do you just view people who are having hardships as scum and freeloaders?  Really - what does your heart say?  Do you walk the walk or just talk the talk.  Are you all talk and no action?  Do you post Facebook statuses claiming to "Always choose to be kind" but know that you don't?  Are you rude to others in public because you're an entitled customer and 'are always right'?
Christ - the head of this house - The unseen host at every meal, The silent listener at every conversation.

I feel that thankfulness is to be acknowledged 12 months, 365 days, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day  in ACTION.  When you realize that you really have nothing to complain about, when ALL of your needs are met, when you have a roof over your head, food to eat every day, are in good health, are warm when it's cold and dry when it's wet - it's time to look outside of yourself and around to the needs of others.

Help someone.  Use your manners.  Feed someone.  Make a donation of money and/or time to a worthy organization.  Be patient with others.  Smile at someone, dammit!  Try having perspective - attempt to understand the struggles of others.  Be empathetic.  DO SOMETHING.

 Make being thankful a verb.  And do it.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Glorious Autumn And Its Inspiration

Autumn is my number two favorite season.  Number one is Winter, but we'll talk about that another time.  Autumn is THE season of change.  Almost everything around us changes (well, depending upon where you live).  I'm a New Englander, so here, the climate changes.  We go from humid, balmy, hot temperatures to cool, chilly, clear temperatures, where everyday becomes a good hair day.  The sky seems to be a brighter, deeper blue.  The breezes kick up to help all of those beautifully changing leaves detach from the fingers of the tree branches.

And the leaves.  Green to red to orange to yellow to brown and never all at once!  Drifting and swirling down from the heights of the tree tops, making you feel as though you are in a confetti storm.  Leaves.  Crunching, skittering, dancing across the pavements and being caught in mini-wind tunnels.  The smell of the leaves.  You find yourself walking to the outside and just breathing deep.  Ahhh!  These leaves, dropping and dancing downward draw us out of our dwellings with rakes in hand to play.  Raking mounds and mounds of leaves to be danced upon and dived into (watch out for twigs, though!).  But, please, no leaf blowers!!  And then we notice them.  We find little crimson ones.  Long yellow and orange ones.  And massive brown ones of oak and maple.

The air.  The air smells sweeter.  It's clearer because the humidity has left us (especially if you live near the ocean).  It's cooler.  At night, you gradually add a blanket as the temps begin to drop.  You sleep better.  I know I love waking up to a cold room, where your shoulders are cold but the rest of you is warm and cozy under a much loved quilt or comforter.  You can smell the smoke from wood burning stoves and fireplaces.  There's a little bit of frost on the tips of the blades of grass in the mornings, or on your car's windshield.  You find yourself stuffing your gloves in your jacket pockets and checking on your stock of knit hats.

The wildlife.  I love seeing huge flocks of black birds, grackle, cowbirds, and starlings descend upon the dogwood trees, burning bushes, and bittersweet vines to gobble up all of the bright berries they can find.  I can hear the rustling near small leaf piles where birds are scratching with their feet, getting at the grubs, slugs, and worms that are nestling under them.  Goldfinches always come to my perennial garden to feast upon the purple cone flower seeds that I've left for them.  Squirrels and chipmunks are extremely focused and determined to collect as many nuts, seeds, and berries that they can find to store up for winter.  We hear the honking of the geese as they, in perfect formation, begin their journey south.

Us.  Our clothing (again, depending upon where you live) changes.  We are wearing longer pants and long sleeved shirts.  Sweat shirts.  Pajamas.  Flannel!  Socks find their way back onto our feet, as do regular shoes.  Most people (excepting my daughter-in-law) pack away the flip flops.  We say so long to the summer salads.  We begin to crave the mac 'n cheese, roast beef dinners, chilis, roasted turkeys, and ham dinners.  We haul out the crock pots and begin baking the pies and cobblers.  We swap the cold cereal for flavored oatmeal and french toast.  Maple syrup on everything? Yes, please! And the pumpkin everything - you know who you are.

All of these pretty drastic changes.  And we accept them.  We have to.  No choice.  No alternative (except to move).  I find it refreshing.  As a matter of fact, I find it inspirational.  If all of practically everything around me can change.....why can't I?  Why can't I try something new?  Why can't I speak up when I've been silent for, um, always?  Why can't I be the person on the outside that I've known all along is living on the inside?
Why should I apologize for being myself?  Why can't I say 'No'?  I've outgrown the mold that others have encased me in.  It's broken.  I'm not broken.  The perception of me is broken.  Because it's changing.  All of me.  Those of you who know me, calm down, I'm not 'coming out' to anything (because I know that's what this kind of sounds like, but, no).  I think I've just finally hit my stride.

I'm me.  I love me.  My husband loves me.  My kids love me.  My grandson adores me.  I have finally accepted the confirmation of who I am in this world.  Just as nature around me sheds and shakes and swirls and inspires, that's what I will embrace, also.  I want to shed, shake, swirl, and inspire.  I want to leave pretty patterns in the frost.  I want my imprint to be colorful, cozy, and comforting.  I want those who love me and care about me to look and me and smile, the way I smile at the birds, leaves, squirrels, and casserole dish full of mac 'n cheese.

And I hope that others will appreciate and be inspired, somehow, by
the glory of changes in themselves, if not clearly visible in the glorious nature around them.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


This has been a very difficult week.  Our old girl, Beatrix, left us on Tuesday.  Beatrix came to us 6-1/2 years ago from the local animal shelter when she was a spry 8 years old.  We sought out Beatrix when our beloved cat, Simba, passed away in 2010.  You can read Simba's story here

Beatrix was quite the con artist.  When my daughter, Lacey, and I went to the shelter in hopes of adopting a cat, the shelter was chock full of cats.  It was heartbreaking, because there were just so many that we would have loved to bring home, but we could only have one.  Beatrix, or Pogo - as she was known at the time - was this massively fat, pretty cat that put on quite the show for us in her cage.  As all of the other cats merely looked at us, Beatrix acted coy by rolling around in her cage, rubbing her face against the wire so we could rub her cheeks, and reached her paws out to us through the bars.  When we were getting to know her more in the greeting area, she was purring loudly and kept jumping onto our laps and snuggling us.  Oh yeah, she picked US.  So we brought her home.

She was so round that we were unsure if she could actually fit into the cat carrier.  Really.  No exaggeration.  She was always and indoor cat and had been declawed by her previous owner (a horrible practice that I certainly do NOT condone), so let's just say she was not very active.  I'd say her most vigorous activity was eating.  She loved to eat.  She demanded to eat.  She ate slovenly, with her mouth open, food dropping anywhere and everywhere.  Our dog, Hank, loved that. 

But, trickster that she was, Beatrix was actually aloof.  Yup, we quickly learned that all that love and affection that we had received at the shelter was just a ploy.  She played us and we fell for it.  The reality was that Beatrix did not like to cuddle.  Or snuggle.  Or like to be picked up.  While she did spend most of her time in Lacey's room, probably because that's where her food dish was kept, she did not appreciate unwelcome guests - such as myself - in her area.  Whenever I would walk into the room, she would glare at me and then stare at my feet until I stepped back over the threshold. 

All of that seemed to change three years ago when Beatrix developed fatty liver disease out of nowhere.  She stopped eating and quickly dropped a lot of weight off of her 16 pound frame.  She was starving.  She went from being morbidly obese to anorexic.  After months of hospital and vet visits, blood tests, ultrasounds, a feeding tube for a month, and constant, dedicated care from Lacey, she made a full recovery.  Beatrix's countenance changed after that.  She seemed to understand that we really did love her and proved it by nursing her back to health.  She allowed us to pick her up.  She was more attentive to Lacey - she would wait for her to come home from work every night and would be excited when Lacey awoke in the mornings.  She even watched Gilmore Girls with us.  Every evening, she decided that it was cuddle-time with my husband.  She would settle herself right on his lap and stay there for hours.

Last weekend we noticed that the eating and drinking had stopped again.  The sparkle was leaving her eyes.  She was present but not really there.  Tests confirmed what we had suspected and we just couldn't put Beatrix through a harrowing experience again just for our sake. 

So, we let her go.  We miss her.  We're grateful for the time we all spent with her.  Wherever she is, may she be enjoying the most elegant, endless feast.