Sunday, April 23, 2017

Mother's Day Garden Greatness

I am a mother of two lovable children who mean the world to me.  However, at this time of year with Mother's Day quickly approaching, I can't help but also reflect on the precious memories I had with my own mother. Mom passed on many years ago, but I can definitely say that I had been truly blessed with a loving mother who, in addition to being my mom, later became my good friend.

What also reminds me of my mom besides this special day of the year that celebrates all moms is all of the planning and debating that takes place regarding what to plant in the garden each season.  My mom was an excellent cook and did a great amount of canning and freezing.  She was raised on a farm and was one of thirteen children in her family to work the family farm which grew vegetables and raised dairy cows for milk. And although she and my father decided to have a large family of their own too, the yard just didn't seem big enough like the childhood farm to grow everything which was needed. Instead we made frequent trips to the weekly farmer's market for additional bushels of fruits and vegetables, bundles of herbs and flowers and large quantities of farm fresh eggs and chickens for roasting and making soup.

As I write this post, I swear I can smell the fresh scent of dill and vinegar for canning cucumbers into pickles and I can hear the "pop," "pop" as the mason jars are lifted from their bath water, cooled and sealed shut.

As I reflect on these cherished memories, I decided to honor my mother and the memories and make my Mother's Day tablescape in this week's post a representation of the healthy, simple, homesteading life of my mom.

What goes well with a hardy bowl of Mom's Homemade Tomato Vegetable Soup for a Mother's Day lunch than some Dilly Cheese and Cucumber Butterfly Sandwiches filled with garden fresh dill, cool cucumbers and juicy tomatoes.

Of course, it wouldn't be a garden without some flowers too.  These cool and refreshing flowers are made with watermelon with cantaloupe centers.  They are great to eat as they are or can be dipped in a marshmallow cream cheese dip.

There are visitors in the garden.  Bumble Bees and ladybugs are out and about making the back yard colorful and busy.

And perhaps some delicate Pecan Bird Nest Cookies made with local farm fresh butter and filled with chocolate eggs for dessert.

Lastly, I came across the following poem one day and decided to save it and share it in this specific post since I felt it was so appropriate for Mother's Day and Father's Day.  For me, this poem reinforces what I already experienced myself watching my own children grow up.  It can only reaffirm my belief that I was very fortunate to have witnessed their entire cherished upbringing and loved and delighted in every minute of it. Their growth into adulthood was inevitable and I couldn't stop the time that went by all too quickly as they developed from child to adult.  But as one of many parents in the world who watched their children mature and leave home for a life on their own, I realized that I will forever be among many others who also yearn for "just one more day of last times."   Happy Mother's Day........

The Last Time 

From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,
you will never be the same.
You might long for the person you were before,
When you had freedom and time,
And nothing in particular to worry about.
You will know tiredness like you ever knew it before,
And days will run into days that are exactly the same,
Full of feedings and burping,
Nappy changes and crying,
Whining and fighting,
But don’t forget….
There is a last time for everything.
There will come a time when you will feed your baby
for the very last time.
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your
sleeping child.
One day you will carry them on your hip,
then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again.
You will scrub their hair in the bath one night
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.
They will hold your hand to cross the road,
Then never reach for it again.
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,
And it will be the last night you ever wake to this.
One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus”
and do all the actions,
Then never sing them that song again.
They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,
The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your
last dirty face.
They will one day run to you with arms raised,
for the very last time.
The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
until there are no more times, and even then,
it will take you a while to realize.
So while you are living in these times,
remember there are only so many of them and
when they are gone,
you will yearn for just one more day of them.

For one last time.

Author Unknown

Friday, April 7, 2017

Bunnies Know Best

Happy Easter!  Just who do you think is visiting me at this time of year and has been hippity hopping around the yard? Second to deer and turkeys, rabbits and their multitude of families seem to populate the area in excessive abundance.  They love to nibble on our flowers, shrubs and, later in the season, garden goodies.  They seem to know exactly what is best when it comes to outdoor dining.

Even though these cute little fur balls raid the garden with ferocious courage and a huge appetite, I find that I am secretly pleased when they come away with a good meal and a full belly.  The ample vegetation supplies these ambitious eaters with a smorgasbord of nutritious food and a bunny's paradise.

This year's Easter's tablescape commemorates my cherished back yard friends and their busy way of life.

Some beautiful red/orange amaryllis flowers adore the window accent table in the corner of the room and is pictured in the upper left corner of the above picture.  I think their bright red/orange flowers as seen in the close up photos below bring cheerfulness to the entire room for the Easter holiday.

A little egg-travant candles in real cracked egg shells are included in the Easter tablescape for some ambiance.

The green water glasses in the following picture caught my eye at a local antique store.  They were so inexpensive, I couldn't say no to the purchase.  I knew exactly how I could use them in this table setting. The leaves trimmed in gold surely gave me the impression that they were worth a lot more than what I paid for them, don't you agree?

I have even taken some health tips from my lovable furry advisor and I have decided to make some fun but lighter and more healthier food offerings for Easter.  One of which is my favorite side dish, a Carrot Raisin Salad.  Just three ingredients and the salad is done.  It is a wonderful way to eat raw carrots.  Just shred three medium carrots, add one half cup of raisins (or more, if you like) and enough mayonnaise to coat and make them creamy. Refrigerate the salad for 2-3 hours and serve with any main dish or sandwiches.  I eat this salad often, so I should have vision as perfect as a bunny!

Another family favorite is the dessert, Home Grown Garden Carrots, made with mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, vanilla extract, melted dark chocolate and a sprinkle of chocolate cookie crumbs for "garden dirt/soil". This quick and easy dessert gets its hint of sweetness only from the dark chocolate and cookie crumbs and not any additional sugar.  Therefore, it makes for a perfect dessert for anyone looking to cut down on large amounts of sugar, but still want to enjoy a rich, satisfying dessert.

Perhaps this whimsical egg can be added as a garnish and contribute a bit of humor to the ham and egg Chef's salad with homemade Honey Mustard Dressing?

And, of course, my back yard buddies left some candies for the neighborhood children.

Happy Easter