Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Spring Projects

What a beautiful Saturday! I didn't get out much on Thursday or Friday because the weather was cold and windy. I felt like Winnie The Pooh in "The Blustery Day!" It is amazing, however, how our weather can go from temperatures in the thirties one day to the upper fifties the next. I have been out a good bit today taking some pictures of beautiful things and wonderful people who are so dear to me.

I couldn't resist taking some more pictures of the crocuses that have finally opened up.

I also had to take some pictures of our visitors, some Canadian Geese that landed on our pond for a few minutes. I guess they just needed some rest before their long flight. Look closely on the top of the pier to see! I didn't get too close, as not to scare them away.

I also took some pictures of John and my cousin, James, measuring for our new vegetable beds. We have very poor soil, so we decided to dig into the ground and add better soil for planting.

My dad is supervising the digging!

John will dig out two beds and hopefully we will be ready to plant when the weather allows. I am so excited! Last year we tried to plant a garden in an area with better soil, but it was too far from the house and the deer had a feast. I hope putting it closer to the house will discourage the deer. Maybe, my trusty dogs will run them away.

As you can see, we have a lot going on around here. I'll keep you posted on the progress. I just love the coming of Spring!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Signs of Spring!

Although today is cold and rainy, (again!) yesterday was warm and sunny. The weather was a wonderful preview to what we have in store for us here in the South in the next month or so. I took a little stroll around the yard to see if anything was starting to peek through the ground. Finally, signs of life were showing in my landscape again. I get excited about that kind of stuff!

The winter daphne should bloom any day now. I can't wait, it smells wonderful!

My 'Happy Returns' daylillies seem happy to return!

The lenten roses have perfect timing. They are all ready to open.

The first bloom! Somebody's got to get the show started.

A tiny purple crocus ready to shine. Proof that beautiful things can come in small packages.

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Saying goodbye to winter is always easy for me. I'm sure we still have quite a few cold days ahead, but thankfully they are going to be increasingly interrupted by beautiful days like yesterday!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays

After an absolutely beautiful weekend, today brings more rain. There is just something about a rainy Monday morning that makes it hard to get the week started. Carson and I began our schooling this morning reluctantly. She doesn't feel well today and has been dragging. I think the winter months are getting to the both of us. Dreary days seem to have a way making me over analyze everything. Although I love homeschooling, I think we need a change of some sort, maybe a new project or hobby to create some excitement around here. It could be that we just need some more warm weather and sunshine. Oh, well, enough thinking for now.

On a lighter note, I had lots of birds at the feeders this morning. A rainy day seems to bring more birds than any other day. The flapping and fighting that occurred was almost too funny. Along with the birds, I had several squirrels feasting at the feeders. John, being the hunter that he is, has offered to "take care" of them. I always thank him for the offer, but gently remind him that the squirrels have to eat too! I did, however, let out my two dogs, Freckles and Mo, thinking that they would run off the little critters. A little later, I noticed the squirrels were still eating up a storm. I went out to see where the dogs were. Mo was no where to be seen and Freckles was lounging on the front porch. It's time these dogs learn how to earn their keep!

Freckles: "Here I am. Now what was it you wanted me to do?"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Magnolia Readers Book Club

Today the weather is absolutely georgous! The temperature is in the upper fifties and the sun is shining brightly. What a wonderful break from the wintry weather we have been having!

I hosted our book club meeting that was postponed last weekend due to snow. The topic was love/romance so the table was set accordingly.

We each gave a short report of something that we had read on the chosen topic. Today we had a wide range of readings; everything from poetry and romantic novels to a book about the love of pets. I always love the different reports that are given.

I couldn't believe that the flower arrangement that I made and posted last week lasted until this week's meeting. I actually think it may be enjoyed for several more days.

Spending time with friends discussing books and poetry is something that I enjoy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Back Off!

This morning I was sitting in my sunroom and drinking my coffee when I noticed that Ottie was back. I watched him play around in the water for some time. Since the sun was shining brightly, I decided to brave the cold air to go out and try to get some better pictures of him.

I went to sit on the pier and wait for him to come closer. The morning is one of my favorite times of the day to sit on the pier. There is usually not much wind and the water is still; perfect for reflecting the trees and sky. I sat there for a while, until I realized that Ottie was not going to come near to me. I decided to walk along the edge of the pond to get a closer look.

At first, he humored me. He swam around and studied my every move. And then it happened. That little feller growled at me. I was startled. My feelings were hurt. I took a couple of steps back. That sweet little otter, the one I had enjoyed watching, had growled at me! How dare he! I have been letting him swim in my pond! I have been letting him eat my fish! This is my territory! How dare He!

I stood there a while longer, took some more pictures, and stared back at him (just to let him know who was the boss.) I was still shocked and hurt that after all of my kindness to him, he told me to back off! Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Isn't that what I do to God sometimes? I enjoy all of his blessings and goodness in my life, and just when he wants to come closer, I say, "back off." Of course I don't growl at him (I would never do that); I just politely say, "That's close enough." Boy, did Ottie teach me a lesson today! I just had to stop to pray and ask for God's forgivness. I don't ever want him to 'back off' from my life. I want him in every part of it. I know I couldn't survive without him. I am thankful that when I draw close to him, he doesn't tell me to 'back off'; he just says, "Come closer."

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Come near to God and he will come near to you."
James 4:7&8

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Time of Reflection

Today is the first day of Lent. It is the time of year for reflection and soul-searching. It is a time for preparing my heart for the Easter celebration. I always try to give up something that I enjoy on a daily basis so that every time I think of it or miss it, I also think about the sacrifice that Jesus made for me. Last year I gave up soft drinks (including diet sodas). After the forty days, I realized that my body felt much better without them. This year I am giving up sweets. (Really hard to do considering the large box of chocolates I just received from John for Valentine's.) I'm not sure that I will be able to continue this sacrifice after the forty days are over this time! When I think about God's love for me and how undeserving I am, giving up sweets doesn't seem to be much of a sacrifice on my part. It will, however, serve as a constant reminder of the sweet love that Jesus pours over my soul each and every day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Winter Sunset

Today the sun was brilliant! The temperature stayed in the thirties all day. So far the average temperature for February is way below normal for our area of North Carolina. Usually February days are much milder. I walked through the yard hoping to see some signs of spring. I guess it has just been too cold for most of the plants to decide to come alive. Even my winter daphne doesn't seem to want to bloom. I am sure that underneath the ground, life is beginning. I am so ready to see color in my landscape again. One positive aspect of the clear, cold sky is the beautiful evening sunset. Winter sunsets are some of the prettiest of all.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Little Winter Pick-Me-Up

I made a couple of flower arrangements for my book club meeting this week. Although I had to postpone the meeting due to snowy weather, the flowers brightened my weekend. It is amazing how an inexpensive bunch of flowers from the local Walmart store can bring joy to the soul. I hope these pictures will brighten up your day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stopping By the Woods

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

John, Carson, and I went for a walk in the snowy woods this morning. I couldn't help but to recall one of my favorite Robert Frost poems. "Stopping By the Woods."
The snow was blowing off of the trees and glistening in the air like glitter. John said that it looked like glitter from angels' wings. I would have to agree with him.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wild Weather & Beautiful Girls

We have had some pretty wild weather lately. On Wednesday, the wind was ferocious. It felt like a hurricane blowing in; only the air was frigid instead of balmy. Yesterday, although the air was still chilly, the wind had died down and the sun was brilliant. Today, the forecast is calling for snow! Boy, will I be so glad to see this winter say goodbye.

We did get out yesterday afternoon and prune some shrubs. I always prune ever so lightly, then John comes behind me and does the heavy pruning. I just don't have the heart for it. I am always afraid of killing one of my precious plants. He really did a number on the Knock Out roses this year. I hope he knows what he is doing. They were starting to look a little leggy last year. I am sure they were in need of some of his 'tough' love.

John also managed to prune himself. He got in a hurry and cut through his glove and into his hand. This happened five minutes before my first piano student was to arrive, so my two very responsible teenagers took him to the emergency room to get his stitches. I was very proud of how they stepped in and took over when I could not. I am always so proud of my young ladies and who they are growing up to be. They are beautiful on the inside and out! Now, if only my Knock Out roses can be half as beautiful as my girls, life will be perfect!

Hurry up, Spring! We're waiting for you!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Our Little Visitor

This morning when I went out to fill up the bird feeders, I saw our little visitor again. Carson named him Ottie. I say it is a he, but I really don't know his gender. But for the sake of telling the story I will call it a he. He is an otter that showed up in our pond a couple of months ago. Actually, there were two of them at first, but now I only see one. He comes and goes at will. When he is here, he plays and fishes in the pond for several days. Before you know it, he is gone again.

I grabbed my camera (I sure wish I had a better one) and headed down to the pier to sit and try to get some pictures. That little fellow is so elusive, although he is not shy at all. He would swim right up to me and as soon as I started to take the picture, he would dive under the water. I ended up with mostly shots of rippled water. He finally caught a fish and settled on the bank to eat his breakfast. John is worried about the amount of fish he is catching. I figure as long as he only occasionally visits we should be okay. I guess he has to eat, too.

I enjoyed my time on the pier, even if it was 38 degrees. I didn't even realize how cold I was until I started inside. I got a cup of coffee and headed to the sun room to warm up. When I sat down and looked out, I noticed it had started a slow drizzle again. I guess we are in for another rainy, winter day. At least I had my time outside before the rain came, thanks to Ottie and the birds.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Winning and Losing

Last night we had some family and friends over to watch the Super Bowl. I am not a huge football fan, but I do watch the games with John sometimes. I am a fan of the Colts, especially Payton Manning, so of course I was not thrilled with the outcome. However, I managed to be happy for the Saints because of the history of the team. It started me to thinking about winning and losing.

One of my dad's favorite sayings is, 'You win some, you lose some, and some get rained out.' I thought about how true that saying really is. It makes me think about times in my life when I have been on the winning side and times that I have been on the losing side. I am thankful that God allows me to experience both ends of the spectrum. It seems that He so perfectly balances each and every event in my life.

The year 2008 was probably one of the lowest times of my life. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer in March of that year. She underwent treatment for six months until she passed away early that September. That summer was the hardest summer in the life of my family. That was our last summer with her. John spent much of his time caring for his mom and that really left him exhausted and emotionally spent. Catie and Carson were affected by the fact that they were losing their Nana, as well as missing time with their dad. We all felt overwhelmed that entire year, but God carried us through it.

The year 2009, however, was one of the best years in my life. In April of that year, Catie and I took a trip with her school to Greece and Italy. The time spent with her and the memories of that trip will be cherished forever. In September, almost to the day that we lost John's mom, God gave us another huge blessing. Carson, our youngest daughter, had a dream to meet her favorite entertainer, Taylor Swift. A local radio station was having a contest to win a pink jeep with Taylor's picture on it, a chance to meet her, and two front row tickets. Carson listened to the station every day and called in every chance they gave. John finally got through and won a chance for the jeep. The day of the concert, ninety-six people had a chance to win. John actually won it! Our family spent the rest of the day in a whirlwind. We were taken to meet Taylor, shown around back stage by her mom, and the girls were able to see the concert from the front row! Talk about an experience of a lifetime! For an eleven year old girl, that was a dream come true.

All of these events took place in a year's time. Our special night at the concert was exactly a year after our lowest point. I believe that God is always there in each and every circumstance that life sends our way. It doesn't matter if we are on the winning side or the losing side, God is always on our side. I am thankful that He works for my good in every situation. My prayer for my girls is that they will always look for His presence in everything and give thanks to Him.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Favorite Rainy Day Spot

Another rainy day. It seems as though this winter has brought more cold, rainy, dreary days than any that I can remember. Today is another one of those. It is in the upper thirties. Usually, in our area, winter days are mostly mild, but not this year. I feel so blessed to have a room in my house that is sunny no matter what the outside weather. If anyone asked my husband or my girls which room is my favorite they would answer, "The sunroom, without a doubt." Everyone should have a place in their home that is cheerful and happy, a place to reflect and spend time with God. For me this is it. It overlooks my front yard with several bird feeders and our pond. I can sit and watch the birds for hours. We also have an otter that makes occasional visits to the pond to fish. I love to watch him dive and play in the water. I thank God every day for His blessings poured out on me. On this rainy, dreary day, I am especially thankful for my sunny room.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Morning Sunrise

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below, Praise Him above ye Heavenly Host, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." Doxology

I woke up this morning to a dreary, rainy day. I really love rain most of the time, however, cold, winter rains can sometimes be depressing. Days like this are perfect for counting my blessings. Without the rains of February, there would be no flowers of spring. I am thankful that God has given me so many blessings in life; my family (I love my family), my friends, and simple pleasures to enjoy.

One of the simple pleasures I enjoy on most days is my Morning Sunrise. I'm quite sure this name has been used before, it probably is not original. A couple of years ago I purchased myself an inexpensive juicer from Walmart, and since then I have been making my own mixed juices every morning. This one is my favorites: I juice one orange, one grapefruit, and add a splash of pomegranate juice. I then strain the pulp simply because I am not fond of it. Yummy! It is like drinking the morning sunrise, hence the name. This can add sunshine to any day.

I think everyone needs to find pleasure in the simple joys of life. On dreary, rainy, winter days those joys can brighten any heart.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Inspiration for my blog

I didn't just happen upon writing a blog by accident. I actually had some inspiration for my endeavor. One of my favorite books ever is actually a diary written by a naturalist and artist, Edith Holden, in 1906. Edith kept a diary of birds, butterflies, bees, and flowers each month of that year. Her words were carefully written by hand and the art work was her own. The book was actually found on the shelves of an English country house seventy years after it was written, long after the death of its author. It was then published and became a favorite book of many, including myself. I am certainly no author or artist, however, I am inspired by nature and the wonderful God that created it all. I want to capture what I see around me in my own everyday life here in my little corner of the world.