decorating with dodi

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

As I Always Say...

...I love a project - or two. It's that time of year! The weather is gorgeous and as much as we are still cautioned not to cut things back just in case we have another frost, I can wait NO longer!!! I cut a lot back the other day and actually saw new growth already coming up so I am optimistic. I still have a lot more cutting back and weeding to go but I simply could not resist the beautiful color of the garden centers this morning.

I love pansies, so there will be many, many holes dug just for them. Usually fill the front bed with lots and lots of pansies. I LOVE little pansy bouquets...and, of course, the more I cut for bouquets, the more keep coming back so I will be "pansy-full" for awhile.

I also bought some larger plants to re-pot in the urns on the front porch. The poinsettias are still going strong but I REFUSE to take any of my St. Pat's pictures with Christmas plants still blooming. There is just something wrong with that scenario!


And, as if all of that gardening won't keep me busy enough, I noticed a lot of paint splatters from last week's Valentine craft on my pool deck and furniture. I'm not sure how that happened with all of the newspaper we had down but ??? In any case, I wet it down this morning and tackled it with a stiff bristled brush and it didn't budge so I picked up some of this as well.


Looks like some furniture re-painting is in my future. I am hoping I can think of something to get it off of the deck without having to re-do that as well...perhaps my old friend, the pressure cleaner?!

While I was outside, I dug up some of the shamrocks that seem to grow everywhere in my yard this time of year. One bunch has white flowers and the other has light purple. I love how right after they are dug out of the ground they look absolutely dead. But, with the sun of the sun room and a drink of water every few hours, it is no time at all that they are perked back up and soon enough they will be lush and bushy!



And, while I was out there, I cut some Gerberas and camellias...and then washed my car because spring must have sprung and the pollen is already here. Maybe I need to rethink my "project" mentality??! Lol Stay tuned.


BTW, if you're really observant, you can see hints that my house is decked out in all its "green" glory. As soon as I get the plants done, I'll be posting!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Love This Weekend!

What a fabulous, full, fun weekend we had!! We usually try to start with pictures and it almost always goes from semi-normal to craziness in a flash...and this year was no exception!









We actually got started on baking before the pictures while we were waiting for Harrison. He was off with his dad at Math Counts earning some volunteer hours. Because we were getting such a late start this year, things were going to be quite simplified from past years but, the kids like making two kinds of cookies, so we got going on them.

 


Yum! Our famous "pink" chocolate chip cookies and chocolate short bread with M&Ms.


Once Harrison arrived and we got our pictures done, we headed outside to start our craft/gift project this year. I think the shabby chic/farmhouse wooden hearts will fit in everybody's decor! This is a MANY step project so we got done what we could right before it began to turn dark.


Then we went in to make dinner. Again, we went with something much simpler than usual but I knew time would be tight...and it was just as yummy even if not everything was heart shaped or red. Lol We made pizza with heart pepperoni, broccoli and salad.



Then we had the delicious cookies and pink ice cream for dessert. Before bed, we had time to get in a few games of Valentine Minute-to-Win-It, Valentine Head Bandz and Heart to Heart - which is a play on Apples to Apples. Anyone who has ever played this game knows just how funny some of the answers can be. We laughed so much...so much so that I even forgot to take any pictures!


Sunday was going to be a full and active day so we started with heart shaped "Toad in the Holes", bacon and cupid's fruit arrows. I actually enjoyed making those "Toad in the Holes' even though I started out not quite sure what I was doing. I used my electric grill to toast both sides of the bread in butter (after cutting out the heart) and then carefully broke the egg into the opening. When it was almost set, I gently flipped it over for a few more seconds and then flipped it back to serve. None of the yolks broke prematurely nor were they over cooked. Since I'm a tried and true scrambled egg kind of girl, this was pretty much a miracle!! I don't think it hurt that I actually thought ahead and bought an extra large, thick sliced loaf of bread. Making these on a traditional slice of bread may have been more of a challenge!

 
After breakfast, it was back to the craft projects. There was still lots left to do. 







These projects definitely took some time but that is what the kids like these days. They were really proud of themselves when they were done. Each one was a little different and they all turned out beautifully!



Then, we were off to the field behind my house. Several times a year, we get back there (with permission from the owner of those wooded 17 acres) to cut back and vines, trees or weeds that may be beginning to encroach near my fence. Believe me, once those vines get a foot hold, life gets interesting. Since we have 308' across the back of our property, it takes a bit of constant patrolling to stay ahead of the game. The kids know the drill and they love all things that involve cutting and chopping implements so they are crazy gung-ho...even Presley who is so petite! This kid is brawny and strong. I don't think she's ever met anything she can't cut down with my loppers. And, this time around, the gang was finally able to pull down some vines that were WAY up into my huge, old oak trees and thicker around than my arm. They cut them where they grew out of the ground almost a year ago but it has taken this long for them to die enough to finally pull them down out of those trees. Towanda!!

I always enjoy these holiday weekends with the grand kids. Hard to believe that yet another is in the record books. I'm' going to get out into the yard today and then on Thursday I will be taking down all things red and moving on to St. Patrick's Day! Of course, I will celebrate Valentine's Day in between there. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 9, 2018

I Love Fridays!

Even though I don't work any more, I still look forward to Friday. I guess it is ingrained after so many years of busy lives! Even now though, I try to do things a little healthier during the week so Friday still holds some indulgences. And, for whatever reason - even though I can do the same thing any other day of the week - I pretty much let myself do only what I WANT to do - no judgement. That can actually mean all sorts of things because I am just now learning to give myself some slack and not feel bad if I haven't accomplished something awesome every day. I still pretty much like the feel of accomplishment. But, when accomplishing something can be super fun as well,...well, it's a really good Friday.

And today was just such a day. Tomorrow starts the kids' Valentine weekend. Once again, we will be starting a little later than we used to but I didn't find that out until I had things planned and prepped. And so, I am finding ways to still fit it all in. I decided that since they really like two of the varieties of cookies that we have made the last few years, I couldn't leave one out...but, I could get one of the doughs ready. With the chocolate cookie, the fun is in cutting out the cookies and then pushing the M&Ms into the dough before baking - not necessarily the making of the dough. So, I got the dough made this morning. There is something nice about being in the kitchen on a bright, sunny morning!

And then, I decided to make my "famous" red hot cinnamon popcorn to give as gifts again this year. I have been making this stuff for many years and have enjoyed giving it out to family, friends, teachers, hair dressers, scout leaders, etc. I don't make this with the kids around as it involves boiling sugar syrup and is really something where "the more is not necessarily the merrier".

It starts with just a few ingredients.



It's really just a matter of bringing the red hots, butter and corn syrup to a boil and then boiling it for another 5 minutes while stirring continuously. The stirring isn't even boring to me. It's fun watching the candy melt and then bubble into a red confection!



Then you pour it over the popcorn. The recipe says to put it on a cookie sheet but I have learned to use this disposable roasting pan as the sides help keep in the popcorn when you're doing the vigorous stirring. "How did I learn that?" you ask. Lol

It roasts in a 275 degree oven for about an hour with you stirring every now and then. It's really important to move the top layer of popcorn to the bottom each time you stir so all of the kernels get that yummy coating!



Once I don't see any more of the syrup on the bottom of the pan, I call it a day and spread the hot mixture on some wax paper on the counter. Let it cool completely and then break up the large hunks and pick through the popcorn trying to make sure there are NO unpopped kernels. They are sometimes hard to see and really give you a jolt if you mistakenly bite down on one. I try to do a pretty good job of picking over the popcorn before I pour on the syrup as well.


I will keep it in air tight containers until tomorrow when I will fill Valentine cellophane bags full and tie off with pretty ribbons. That is, if there is enough for me to do that after I keep "sampling"...just to make sure it is quality tested! It IS Friday after all!

Here's the recipe in case I have tempted you enough.


And, as if all of this fun wasn't enough to make my day, my camellia bushes are starting to open.



And, the hyacinths got so large and open that I am using them as cut flowers. They're still next to my family room chair and they smell so "delicious"!



 It's the simple little things like this that make Fridays and even being in the kitchen an extra happy day! Stay tuned.

Be Still My Heart!

I don't know how obvious it is from this blog, but I love nature...most especially the cute critters that consider my home their home. I have 17 pretty much undeveloped acreage behind my house so I always have lots of visitors - raccoons, squirrels and possums come often. But perhaps my favorites are the birds. Now that I no longer have any cats, I feel safe filling lots and lots of feeders and bird baths and inviting them in. I LOVE my cardinals and get super excited on the rare instance of a blue bird sighting but I think the thing that truly sends shivers down my spine is the yearly arrival of the robin red breasts! They are here now!! Usually I see them all gathered out on the grass in the middle of our cul de sac. But, this year, something caught my eye before I opened the door to head out to check the mail.


Do you see them? Look closely!


Aren't they beautiful? And, this year, they are ALL over my front and side front yard. I took the pictures through my window because I didn't want to scare them away. I can't tell you how long they stayed or how long I stood at that window just staring at their loveliness but I do know that they made my day! Always a sign to me that new life is on its way.

And, on the tulip update, I am amazed that these cheap  inexpensive flowers are actually performing beautifully. The buds were kind of tiny and even though it looked like a lot of bang for the buck, I wasn't sure it would deliver as well as the larger bloomed, more expensive bouquets. To my surprise, they are opening slowly and just beginning to do their traditional tulip bend. They are gorgeous. They make my heart happy!! Way to go Trader Joe's!


 
 We have survived the bumps of the winter and things are looking up for sure. Stay tuned. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

...Valentine's Day!!! The dining room table is filling up so that must mean it is almost time for the grand kids' Valentine weekend. I like to gather up everything that I can so I am ready when the kids get here. And, I always try to over plan because one can never be sure exactly how long a project may take and you know what they say about "idle hands". Lol

The kids are going to get here a little later than usual as they all have other commitments that morning. But, I know it gets harder and harder to get them all together as they get older and they join sport teams, clubs, etc. so I will take what I can get. That being said, I do think we may go a bit lighter on the "heart shaped" food this year so we still have time for our crafts and games. I'm still trying to figure out when we'll fit all of our baking in, but we'll do as much as we can!


I always like to do goodie bags as well. I have fun shopping for all sorts of fun things.



I think my favorite this year is that chocolate covered Rice Krispie treat that I found at Fresh Market. Their mom probably isn't going to be thrilled with all of that sugar but, after all, it is a holiday and I am a grand mother!


Lots of photos coming soon if they will sit still long enough! Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Keeping Strong!!

I think when I last posted, I was off to Gainesville to help daughter #2 celebrate her birthday! I had such a nice time and, it didn't hurt that I got to spend a good bit of time with two precious grand daughters as well!

Since everyone was off to work or back to colleges the next morning, I decided to head home as well but make a few stops in a few of my favorite places before hitting the road. And, as you can see, I indulged myself just a bit. It truly amazes me how boring, predictable,  "cyclical" my life is. If you went back to my blog from about this exact time last year...or the one before that...or the one before that...you would see a very similar picture.

All I can say is it is a good thing that I live in Florida because by this time every year, I am OVER winter - and we truly don't even "get" a real winter. But, we usually have at least a frost or two that will burn off all of the green leaves on flowers and right about now, everything outside looks HORRIBLE. Plus, it had stayed just cool enough that it isn't altogether pleasant enough to be crawling around on the ground without a cumbersome jacket of some sort.

But, now, we are experiencing the most gorgeous "spring" temperatures and it is taking all I can do not to hit the yard and cut everything back!! Just when I was ready to go, another Master Gardener article appeared reminding us all not to do it. We can still have another freeze and cut back things will then probably die. I want to get out there so bad!!! But, my two friends (Trader Joe's and Fresh Market) have given me just enough of a hint of spring that I can have in the house with me right now that I am holding strong.

And, you can see that I am not only a push over for the spring flowers but different coffee flavors and the lemon orzo salad will do it for me also. And, those darn chocolate covered almonds with sea salt will do it ANY time of the year! I rue the day daughter #1 introduced me to those things! After that first introduction it seems I have to visit often - lol.


I pick up tulips every week that Publix has them available...and I love them. But, this double dozen bouquet from Trader Joe's had me absolutely swooning. Right now they're so fresh that they are upright so I have them in this vase but as soon as they start some of their beautiful drooping, I will put them in one that gives them a bit more room to do so!

As much as I adore tulips, I also love irises and daffodils and, I usually grab those the minute I see them as well. Fresh Market had some but they were already almost open. Since neither of those blooms last much more than a day, I passed on them this time but will be on the look-out for the first tight blossoms I can find. Right now, I am loving red tulips for Valentine's Day!






I am also a sucker for fragrant flowers...and hyacinths are one of my favorites. I grabbed this plant because it is super heavy with a lot of stems. It was closed up tight when I got it so I put it in the sun room and overnight the blooms are starting to open. As soon as I can get the first scent from it, it will move in next to my chair in the family room.


 As you have probably guessed, I am all about the ambiance of the sights and smells - for every season or holiday. And, hopefully, those sights and smells inside will keep me from jumping the springtime gun outside...but, I wouldn't take any bets! Stay tuned.



Saturday, February 3, 2018

Look What I Found!!

I think I have mentioned that I am reluctantly getting ready for a garage sale. I don't like them but I have soooo much "stuff" that is really still good just not in my design mood any more that it seems foolish not to see if I can sell a bit of it. That being said, I know I need to de-clutter. And, once I got started, I have kind of become a bit obsessed. I have started remembering hiding  storage places from long, long ago and have begun finding things I haven't thought about in years! Like these two beauties:




I'm super upset with myself that I didn't date these. I know that I did stamped embroidery for many years before I even heard of counted cross stitch and I did that many, many years ago - back when I could see the squares on 22 ct fabric! I also know I did them when my house was still full of little ones and all of their friends. Our house was the house to be at and we loved all of the activity that filled these rooms for so many years. It really is hard to believe that the "still" rooms have happened in the blink of an eye! So, so glad we have all of those beautiful memories. Of course, these rooms still see moments of family fullness and activity. Grand kids' Valentine's Day coming up soon. I'm busy getting my ducks in a row.



I have had a wonderfully full week. Got to spend one day with my brother and sister-in-law, another with an old friend and today at the county soccer match watching grand son #2 play for his school then lunch and some shopping with my daughter! Next week, I'm off  to Gainesville for a few days to help daughter #2 celebrate her birthday. More to share soon. Stay tuned.