Category Archives: create

Different Kind Of Year

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After the main water line burst under our foundation and flooded the floors throughout our home in November of 2015, Dean and I stopped in our tracks for another look into our future. We lived in a rental home for almost 3 months while our floors, doors, and walls were upgraded. Poet Emily Dickinson once wrote, “Where thou are – that – is Home”.  Home for me is where Dean is.   We refocused on our future, and we dreamed new dreams those few days beginning 2016.  We entered this year with different eyes for our near and farther future. “Different” has many meanings, and it is a word used interchangeable with words such as eccentric, strange, or  unfamiliar and the opposite of alike, same, similar, or akin.  Unfamiliar grounds were walked with the unexpected renovations of our home, working with our home owner’s insurance company and a contractor.  Our insurance agent said she saw nothing quite like what we experienced.  Living in a slab home has its disadvantages. “This ability to reinvent oneself, to sail confidently into unknown waters, seem to be even more needed today, ” writes author Ferenc Mate. Resilience.

On March 1 we made it back into our St. Peters house.  No better opportunity to lessen and reorganize our belongings than when our plethora of boxes are delivered from storage back to our home.  Dean built another storage shelf for the garage. Redecorating our quaint, beautifully refurbished dwelling allowed for artistic expression.  In our future is a red front door, maybe not quite as eccentric as the purple door seen in the photo but I definitely wear purple.  Soothing green walls, warm pine doors, and neutral beige laminate floors bring a more natural feel to our home. A room addition came to our minds as we explored ways to invest in what we could afford, yet not as risky as a rental property we had considered in 2015.  Late this spring we signed a contract and hired the same local contractor who did our remodel for our 500-square foot house addition project.  A delay with city permits and the rerouting of electric lines in our rocky back yard, the roof and windows were installed today.  Trendy “barn doors” will be placed for the entry into a small bedroom, and the rest of the space will be a great room to include bargain-finds such as a hide-a-bed sofa, comfy recliner, dining table with chairs, more cabinets extending from our current kitchen, and a nook near one of the  windows for a day bed and night lamp. We have friends and family stop in from time to time, and hope to have a homemade dinner made as well as accommodate any overnight visits.  Will you be one of them?  I hope.

Like previous years gardening, books, writing, foods, and hospitality continue to joyfully fill my spare moments in between my job and family. More herbs and greens will fill our pantry and plates in 2017.  I will attempt to grow lavender for some aroma therapy and culinary use in baked goods and fresh tea and lemonade.  I learn from authors, artists, and eccentrics. “Blessed are the weird people – the poets, misfits, writers, mystics, heretics, painters, troubadours- for they teach us to see the world in different eyes,”  author Jacob Nordby is quoted.  On quieter days at work or at home in the evening I read books in preparation for work-life balance presentations and personal enrichment. “I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense”  says Harold Kushner. These three books:  The Wisdom of Tuscany by Ferenc Mate, Money Secrets Of the Amish by Lorilee Craker, and Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley touched on the essence of my year. Take small steps with purpose, and be simple, creative, and make-do.  And give grace to yourself and others. I highly recommend these readings.

 

 

 

The Best Weapon

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Simplicity.  “In a world of complexity, the best weapon is simplicity,” Price Pritchett is quoted.  The simplicity of a garden is one place I find peace in this troubled world. I am an artistic gardener, rather than a scientific one. I love creating an ambiance with green life. The fragrances of fresh herbs after a soaking rain or while harvesting feed my culinary imagination for Dean and I’s next meal, cucumber salad with snippets of cilantro to cool the heat of the summer day. The beauty of August’s blooms set in a simple vase uplifts the day no matter the bad news.  “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” Audrey Hepburn once said.  It takes faith. “Faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future.  It’s simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step,”  artist Joni Eareckson Tada tells us. So I  take one step at a time, one seed at a time.  “Faith as a mustard seed can move mountains” as the Bible encourages us.  I believe one simple step of love leads to another and then another.  Those mountains of hatred will move.  Make one simple step towards peace this very evening.

 

Contrasts

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A week in the mountains away from suburban life, work day conflicts, time constraints, and society’s woes … God’s creation … His canvas …

colorful vignettes, the snow-capped peaks and vi-rid valleys, mountain streams, deep-rooted trees, fresh air, hummingbird shrills, delicate flowers abloom, the silvery paper coins of the aspen groves fluttering, and the simplicity of just being can settle anyone’s mind, heart , and soul.  What a difference a week can make.

Why are we as a people so fired up?  In fight mode, defensive?  Pause a moment. Take a deep breathe or two. Quiet the soul.  Chill, or sip some chamomile tea if you cannot get away to that quiet place on your own.  Think, but not too hard.  Meditate on goodness.  Selah from the heart.  Thank God.  Love unceasingly.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…”  1 Corinthians 13:4 -8 (NIV).

More French Art

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In my last post I shared some French influence in the culinary arts. That same evening I threw together an overnight blueberry french toast which turned out deliciously, and we have eaten on this dish the past couple of mornings.  The kitchen is not the only room where the arts have a French flavor.  The artistic style of the French poet and painter Jules Breton now resides in Dean and I’s bedroom.  Last year Dean gave me a print of Breton’s painting “The Wounded Seagull”, a replica of my favorite painting at the St. Louis Art Museum.  A thoughtful gift. The original was created in 1878 when the World’s Fair was held in Paris.  We had this print matted and framed, and now resides over our headboard.  When Breton painted it, this was a time in history when “naturalism” was replacing “romanticism” in the arts, artists portraying the daily lives of everyday people.  It is thought that Breton romanticized a common peasant girl in this painting.  The wounded seagull looks up to her while she appears to be in a far away thought.  Sea life was not easy, for the seagull or the girl.  I think this painting tells the story of so many I know and love.  We care and love each other a mist turmoil.  The conflict and contrast continue.

 

To Eat Intelligently Is An Art

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“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” ~ Francois de La Rochefoucauld, French author wrote.  This author lived an exquisite lifestyle in his French chateau in the 1600’s. And the one and only saucy “The French Chef” herself, Julia Child was an American chef who brought the French cuisine to the everyday American in the mid to late 1900’s.  This “mindful, purposeful eating” is an art almost lost, but has been resurrected once again with the farm-to-table restaurants and crafted foods and spirits in today’s food culture.  The term “slow food” was coined in Europe in the 1980’s, and has come to the United States full swing.

Locavorism is encouraged. Niche farmers, gardeners, and chefs bring fresh meats, fruit, vegetables, and herbs to their plates and that of their community.  The Bent Pig and Hannahway Farms in Farmington and Chef Jack MacMurray at Chandler Hill Vineyards in Defiance are such people.  Farmer’s markets will open this month with their early crops.  An American diner such as Ethyl’s in O’Fallon, Missouri has their crafted meats, slowly smoked which fills the neighborhood with a mouth-watering aroma.  After work one evening this week I devoured their pork sandwich served with a heaping dollop of coleslaw between the bun and sweet, smoky BBQ pork, Carolina-style.  I slowly savored every bite.  Local does not always mean the best as my stop at a small cafe for a warm bite before my doctor’s appointment yesterday morning reminded me of that.  A “Popeye omelet” described on the menu said bits of bacon with spinach and Swiss cheese. But mine had chunks of bacon fat that resembled the Swiss cheese.  Gross!  I could not finish it!  The smell of bacon turned my stomach tonight when I came home to my daughter preparing a “brinner ” menu for her family.  See how long it takes me to get over the bacon phobia.  I usually love the leaner slices!  Tonight I created an overnight french toast using leftovers:  day old raisin bread bargain bought at a local bakery soaked in an egg-milk mixture laced with some of my home brew vanilla extract, and then topped with leftover reduced-fat cream cheese spread and fresh blueberry sauce.  Tell you how it turned out on my next post.

So go back to my original quote “to eat intelligently is an art”… it means to eat within a set budget as well as “lean, clean, and green”.  It takes some planning and improvisation.  My health goal this year was to lose at least 20 lbs.  Patronizing those farmer’s markets, growing my own veggies and herbs, and eating more plant foods will help me achieve that goal.  Based on this week’s visit to the doctor’s, I have lost.  As long as I do not eat too many slices of that french toast, and keep to veggie omelets, I will do accomplish my goal tastefully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pancake Morning

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“Talking, talking, pancakes” is what Dean describes our first morning together.  We loves our pancakes!  This Saturday morning is no exception.  This improvising personal chef had one over-ripe banana in the fruit bowl and one bottle of Wells Banana Bread beer left in the refrigerator from the holidays.  This combination created some delicious pancakes. Is it Hermann’s German culture or my German heritage from my deceased grandmothers influencing the weekend menu in this home?  Probably a little bit of each.  Here it is folks … Banana Beer Pancakes with Caramelized Banana Beer Sauce.

This morning Dean and I talk weekend topics over our pancake breakfast.  Errands to run … purchase and install new window blinds in our rejuvenated home, and a tile floor selection for the bathroom.  Then dog food and possible organic vegetable and herb seeds to purchase at the local farmers’ co-op with an afternoon run out to our 7-month greenhouse at Boone Hollow Farm in Defiance, Missouri.  I will get the organic soil turned up today while Dean looks over the structure for winter wear. February brings us closer to spring.  Besides the Groundhog tells us it will be an early spring this year. Spring-like today, but winter returns with frigid cold weather after the weekend. Deanna Greens And Garden Art will start our 4th growing season.  In another 4 or 5 weeks, seeds will be planted in our beds for an early crop of lettuces, spinach, and peas. The garage is too crowded with our extra storage during the house renovations to get the gourd and herb seedlings started on the heating pads.  All direct sowing this year.  Flexibility and improvisations once again.  Life requires it.

“Look around for a place to sow a few seeds.”  Henry Van Dyke

 

Duck Audacity And Boats n Birds Bobbin

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Bird life on Island Lake this summer is very active. Forty-one loons and counting as more were being hatched this week. Two families of ducks frequent the boat dock and lake side looking for handouts. Apparently vacationers were feeding them, and the presence of more people posed the promise of more handouts. Duck audacity was proudly displayed even with our 85-lb labrador, Midnight present. Midnight had a whining fit as we kept him on the porch until the ducks and ducklings were back in water swimming safely onto their next destination. Flies, butterflies, and dragonflies flew with the breeze. Owls by night and chipmunks by day sat on the tree limbs watching the life underneath. Co-existence.
The summer rains followed Dean, my sister, and I to our beloved Minnesota. It rained everyday we were at Island Lake. But each day also included some sunshine and low 80’s. Thunderheads would build up with steam as the day went along. Then, the winds would blow the rain across the lake in sheets, causing ripples and then white caps in the lake. The cool north air would follow. Those storms created some awesome views from the porch of our favorite little red cabin or the boat dock. Dean captured a few awesome photos. Our Midnight embraced the noisy storms outdoors or on the porch with us. The thunder sounds different at Island Lake than in our Missouri home. Momma loon and her baby weathered the white caps in the bay, bobbin with each wave. Dean caught the reflection in the water as a double rainbow arched above the lake. Friendships continue after so many years. And new ones form even amongst the dogs. Another memorable week at Valhalla.

Garden Vignettes

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Another rainy May morning, this time meandering into the weekend. The rain may stop this afternoon. Maybe I will plant some baby geraniums into pots while home. Many weekend hours went into the creation of my garden vignettes. Planting flowers and perennials in terra-cotta pots, moss baskets, and unassuming vessels such as tea kettles and driftwood is one of my favorite hobbies. I design the various plants and art pieces into garden vignettes. This growing season the big wagon holds two large moss baskets of red impatiens, lobelia, vinca, and bridal veil. The other moss basket beds our perennials of wandering jew, spider plants, and an older, wildly growing red geranium. Another vignette is the child-size porch bench and table seated with young spider plants, moses-in-the-cradle, and geraniums while reaching for sunlight filtered by the tender bright red Japanese maple leaves. A nursery indeed. More red geraniums surround a bird bath and old red bike. A gorgeous red rooster-tail (twisted celosia) grows in the middle of our largest terra-cotta pot with marguerite sweet potato vine and clusters of yellow lantana contrasting. Pots of succulents are scattered on the patio and porch. Smaller coco-lined wire baskets of asparagus fern, wandering jew, and spider plants hang from our shade trees along side the bird houses and feeders. I hope you enjoy my garden art captured with Dean’s photography, the serene and comfort of green art.

Spring Forth

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The weather pretends to be spring one day and another more like winter even though vernal equinox came just a few days ago. The see-saw effect of the air temperature have the flowers and blossoms awaiting their full glory. We were blessed with a few soaking rains this month of March, and this will help the springtime colors on those coming sunny days. Yesterday and today, the day warmed up nicely with full sun by afternoon. This weekend I was able to get my early spring seed sowing completed. Two varieties of peas, leaf lettuce, spinach, and chives seeds went into the cold organic soil of our raised bed. The bed is situated in the screenhouse side of the greenhouse. The irrigation lines are not turned on yet from the winter shut-off to the well, so we make do until then. We watered the soil with water from the little creek on the farm property. We have not tested the water in the creek, but the farm is surrounded by more small farms and rural dwellers in the Daniel Boone country of Missouri. Down-to-earth and sustainable-practicing folks are our neighbors. That’s essential for organic growing.
All of our perennials spent the winter under plant lights and the heat from an oil heater in the garage. Some survived, but will flourish in warmer air and real sunshine. Our geraniums, Kingston ferns, citrus trees, and bird-of-paradise are lush green. Just a few more days until we are frost-free, then we can bring them to their favorite outdoor perching spots. Others did not make it through the long winter. Our peace lilies and arrowheads probably will not resurrect in the warmer outdoors. We inherited many perennials when we purchased the greenhouse structure 3-1/2 years ago. Many were sold or were given away. But the perennials I really care about are our geraniums and herbs. Our annuals of organic garden greens, peas, and beans will freshen up a few meals this summer. Gourds will grow over the long summer months, and harvest late in the autumn.
To the farmer’s market Deanna Greens And Garden Art does not go, as Dean and I have no desire to sell what we grow at this time. I am feeling selfish right now. I want what I grow for myself or family. It is much work to be a farmer, and we are busy enough with our full-time jobs and keeping with our 6 grown children and their families. Restricted time and creativity do not go hand-in-hand. At this time I am in an artist’s slump. Yet I know there will be a time and the creativity for the medium of painting. “Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found.” ~ James Russell Lowell. Just maybe next winter I will connect with the Earth through the creative art of carving and painting gourds, rather than preoccupied and depressed by the cold winter I cannot embrace due to my severe allergy to the cold. I hope that through this blog, words will continue to flow. No matter what surrounds, project deadlines, violent urban life, office or family drama, sickness or death, may my words convey God’s love for us and my love for the Earth He has blessed us with. “To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.” ~ George Kneller

Papers, Papers, A Plethora of Papers

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So how did paper get to be so overkill? All the junk mail even during the electronic era? Before scrolled pen & ink messages,the typewriter, word processors, and computer words were carved in stone and wood for communication. Story-telling, musical lyrics, and fireside chats rather than books, blogs, and online chats. I’d like to reserve my paper adventures to handwritten “thank you” and “thinking of you” notes using recycled or hand-crafted papers, or papiermache or decoupage trinket boxes or other craft projects recycling greeting cards. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner for a paper creation.Happy Valentine<
With these wintry days time is on my side. I am not working two or three jobs any longer. No greenhouse chores. No pressing family matters to attend to. My allergy to the cold tells me I cannot play outside in the cold. At home and at work, I have a plethora of papers piled in baskets, boxes, trays, and file cabinets. All of which are in need of my attention. Not one paper is of immediacy. It just requires time to make decisions about what stays and gets filed, and what gets purged. I do not consider myself a hoarder, but I am beginning to wonder about myself as of late. Lack of time would be the culprit. But 2015 is the year for repurpose, recycle, and rejuvenation. How many trees can I save? Jonas At The Fireplace
At home, the unwanted papers are a part of an annual fire ritual set aside for a wintry late afternoon using the kitchen fireplace. It is the perfect Sunday afternoon to make split-second decisions before throwing the unwanted papers in the blazing fire or set aside for the files. I guarantee there will be another wintry day for filing. Our feline friends find the whistling of the fire fasinating. My work week has been somewhat subdued considering the kind of weeks and months coming out of 2014. Project deadlines and security issues were priority over these damned papers. To the shredder rather than a fire the excess papers go. I now keep most documents on electronic files. During another lull time, I will organize my computer files.
What paper projects do you create or undertake during the winter months?