Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Science of Flowers

I love flowers in my garden but I don't pretend to understand the science behind them all the time.

Last year I was so discouraged.

My tulips didn't bloom. My Lilac bush didn't bloom. My Hydrangea bushes didn't bloom. Then we had somewhat of a drought and everything dried up and died.

This is not usual for Upstate NY. Although we don't really see the rebirth of flowers and trees and leaves until now, the end of April, once Spring starts there is a nice mix of sun and rain to fill everything out.

This year, I think some flowers are confused and others are glad to turn their faces toward the sun again!

We moved our lilac bush to the other side of the yard because it had not bloomed in about 5 years. Look at it now! Those dark purple buds are all going to be luscious smelling lilacs. I have been waiting for that sweet smell and now I will have it each time I walk out my side porch door.

I live about a half hour from Rochester, which is known worldwide for it's Lilac Festival in Highland Park in May. The weather doesn't always cooperate but the lilacs are heavenly just the same.

Last Fall I had my shovel ready to dig up the 35 red tulips I had planted several years ago. I planted them in 7 groups of 5. They bloomed once! I am so glad I didn't! Imagine my surprise to see the buds pop up last week and this week there they are in all their glory!

Spring clean up has just begun around here so you are seeing last years mulch and dead leaves. The new mulch has been bought but there won't be any planting or mulching until Memorial Day.

Even these yellow tulips, that were here when we bought the house 21 years ago, are re-blooming.

So last Fall I did decide to pull out my Hydrangea bushes. They were beautiful and full but there were no flowers for a few years and even then there were only a few. They were supposed to be purple but no matter what tricks I tried, they came out pink. The stumps are all that is left now and we are struggling to get them out.

Oh boy, was that a mistake? Considering that my long lost tulips and Lilac bush are finally blooming, maybe the Hydrangea would have too?

Too Late.

I have a plan. I bought these gorgeous Ranunculus to plant in the front of the plot of garden just outside my side porch, and I plan on putting varying heights of Zinna, one of my favorite flowers, behind them.

I am always thrilled to see the Forget Me Not's return every year.....

As well as the Grape Hyacinth....

A sure sign that Spring has arrived in my area is the blooming of the Forsythia....

This thing takes up the whole corner of our yard and you can see it from Main Street when you turn onto our street. I am just sad that the flowers do not last long.

The Fairies have little purple flowers outside their door....

And the Hostas are emerging all over my side garden....

Some flowers are confused, I think.

My Bleeding Heart does not usually bloom now....

...but it's pretty all the same..

This Brunnera does not usually bloom till early summer either.....

The winter's are pretty harsh here so to see anything come up is such a delight, let alone the flowers that haven't bloomed in years.

My birdhouse has weathered into a vintage treasure and watches over the whole side garden.

I find myself getting discouraged when our weather is still cold and I see all the beautiful flowers blooming in my Southern blogging friends posts.

But then I remember that in July and August when our weather is gorgeous and our gardens are lush and full, it is so hot in the South that the only way to survive is to be in air conditioning 24/7. Kind of like our winters and the 24/7 furnace!

I guess it is all in what you are used to.

Happy Spring! I am hoping that this coming weekend will be nice enough weather to get my garden put together. I have a basement full of garden décor!

How does your garden grow?

AnnMarie xoxo

I am sharing with these fun blog parties:

Share Your Cup
No Rules Weekend Blog Party
Share Your Style Link Party
Home Sweet Home

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Baked Chicken Kabobs

Every week it's the same thing....

"What do you guys want for dinner this week?"

I let my son and husband choose and then I make something healthy for myself!

So my son requested chicken kabobs on the grill for dinner. My husband doesn't like to come home from work during the week and have to grill.

Since it is Wednesday and rainy and chilly out anyways, I googled for a recipe for Baked Chicken Kabobs and I found one!

WOW were these ever good! This is actually a meal I would eat along with my guys and although there were only three of us eating, there wasn't very much left over!

Click here for the printable version of the full recipe. It is lengthy but really not hard to make. I cut out a lot of it by opting to make mine without the skewers (see #11 NOTE on the recipe) and I doubled the marinade recipe.

Here's how I did it.....

Early in the morning I cut up my extra large chicken breasts (found at Aldi's) into chunks and put them in the original marinade recipe and then into the fridge for the day. The longer they marinate the better.

I cut up the zucchini, peppers, red onion and mini potatoes. The mushrooms and grape tomatoes stay whole. The recipe tells you to line them all up in the pan like they were on a skewer but it didn't all fit so I just threw it all in together. I added the snow peas for color.

This recipe makes a lot. The pan above is a lasagna pan and I needed another 9 x 13 to fit the rest of the chicken and vegetables.

When both pans were full I poured and brushed another batch of the marinade over the top. Into the oven at 450 degrees for 35 minutes and it came out SO good.

The chicken stayed tender, not dried out like it can get on the grill, and the veggies were crisp. Served over rice with the marinade from the pan and YUM!

I did not miss the grill marks on the chicken at all and my husband didn't have to get wet :-)

I will definitely be making this recipe again.....rain or shine!

AnnMarie xoxo

P.S. It is so hard photographing food! Is it just me?

I am linking up with these fun blog parties:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Flea Market Pickin'

I find the best stuff when I'm not lookin'.

It has been so barren and uneventful in the pickin' department around here lately and I have been confined to the local Goodwill and flea markets. It is just about garage sale and yard sale season, but not quite yet.....

This past Saturday was another one of those times when I was out running lots of errands around town and decided to drop into the local flea. It just happens to be right across the street from the bank and the post office.

It is usually hit or miss most of the time there, but I was happy to see that Brenda is back!

Brenda is one of those crazy, thrifting ladies (like me) that loves to chat away about all her finds and where she got them. I don't know her personally but have followed her around the different places she has had shops. She moved south for awhile and now she is back and set up shop in Bob's Flea Market right in town.

She and I have the same taste in vintage treasures.

I really didn't make it much past her booth!

The first thing that caught my eye was this super heavy cement squirrel...

Not sure what I was thinking because I hate squirrels!! Okay, hate is a strong word....I strongly dislike them! They have overrun our yard and invade my bird feeders to the point that I can't feed the birds anymore.

I thought he was cute though. He is from an estate sale down south and probably from the '60's.

Here is all the stuff I got from Brenda's booth.....all except the stool. That one was Bob's, the owner.

I was in the mood for buyin' and Brenda was in the mood for bundlin'. I got a great deal on all my treasures.

The frog is from the same estate sale as the squirrel and he is also heavy cement. He is pretty chipped up but I think he is a keeper. He will keep my other rusty metal frog company for awhile on the front porch steps.

I can never pass up a wooden stool or a wooden tool caddy. I will be listing this one in my Etsy shop soon.

I cannot pass up a pitcher or creamer either....especially an ironstone one. And the recipe box is an FTD flower planter from 1985. It is cute and retro and has a faux wood look with raised flowers and letters. Pretty kitschy!

I was thrilled to see the set of three aqua Butterprint Pyrex dishes (I am thrilled with finding anything aqua!). The refrigerator dishes have their lids but the casserole does not. They are sold as a set in my Etsy shop here.

Then there is the wooden stool. Oh, how I cannot pass up a vintage looking stool! It is heavy, sturdy and nicely scratched up. It was probably a milking stool and is a great farmhouse décor piece to use as a step stool. It is available here.

One last item that thrilled my heart to see today. My daughter texted me that she saw a yard sale on her way to work this morning......on a Monday?

It was on my way home so I had to stop. Lots of high priced furniture and stuff I didn't want but then I spied with my little eye, this wooden aqua tool chest. I asked how much and the guy said, in a voice that sounded like he was afraid it was too high, "$4?" I kept my cool and said okay, "I'll take it."

What??!! Happy dance in my head!

The top is marked "tip up". My daughter and granddaughter informed me that tip ups are the things you use in ice fishing to signal when a fish is on the line.

I learned something new today too.

I think there is a better use for this fabulous box.....how about some potted plants in there with the lid up?

I am happy for now. I saw a few signs for sales coming up in town later this week and my favorite, a church rummage sale, next week.

I like to stick close to home. So far it works for me!

AnnMarie xoxo

I am linking up with these fun blog parties:

Let's Talk Vintage
Share Your Cup
Vintage Charm Party

No Rules Weekend Blog Party

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Greatest Invitation

Invitation + Desire = Acceptance

My bedtime ritual every night is to read my stack of devotionals, my favorite being Our Daily Bread.

It has a small devotional for each day of the month written by a Christian writer and then a complimenting scripture is included.

The one on Friday, March 31st got me.

It's not like I didn't know the content in that days writing, or had not heard it and read it many times before. I just had never read it put quite that way.

The writer of this devotion is David McCasland. He quotes Isaiah 55:1:

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money
and without cost."

God is offering his free gift of salvation and everlasting life to anyone who will come to Him.

McCasland goes on to say how Jesus offered the same thing in the last book of the bible,
Revelation 22:17:

"The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!"
And let the one who hears say "Come!"
Let the one who is thirsty come, and let
the one who wishes take the free gift
of the water of life."

On this day before Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified, and this Holy week of Easter, I thought it fitting to share this devotion.

The part that got to me is McCasland's final words in this devotion...

"We often think of eternal life as beginning when we die.
In reality, it begins when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord."

You can have eternal life TODAY! Giving your life over to Jesus Christ, repenting of your sin and trusting Him to direct your path, will glorify Him for what He did for you....dying on the cross and rising again. It is the message of Easter and it is for everyone that trusts in Him.

Your life will be full of peace and joy, regardless of the circumstances, knowing that He has it all in control and NOTHING happens to you that He doesn't know about first.

The invitation is there. If you have the desire, accept.

Your eternity starts today.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Playing with My New Camera

I have not been happy with the photo quality my cheapy little point and shoot camera has been delivering lately.

Could it be because it has fallen a gazillion times and now there are dark shadows all along the top of every picture?

There is a beautiful blog called French Country Style from the Foot of The Rockies that I visit occasionally that always has such gorgeous, clear pictures. Recently Pat posted 10 tips for great picture taking and showed the point and shoot camera that she uses.

I just happen to be in the market for one! It's a Canon Powershot Elph.

That's all the incentive I needed. I ordered it online from Walmart and picked it up at the store the same day. I got the Elph 180.

I have been playing with it, taking pictures of things I recently posted to see if they look better, and of some other things around my house and yard.

Here's a sample....

My old camera....

this is after I edited the shadows out!

New camera.....

Here's another one...

To me it is a huge difference, and with practice, my pictures may be somewhat decent soon!

One of my favorite features so far is the rechargeable battery. No more buying expensive lithium batteries!

Some other pictures I took with the new camera....

It is actually sunny and 57 degrees outside today, so I went out to take a few pictures of things that popped up out of the ground. Pat suggested to take outdoor pictures on an overcast day, but I had to get out in the sunshine and just shoot!

It's always fun to get something new and play with it, but this new toy will come in handy for my item pictures for my Etsy shop as well as my blog.

Sometimes you just have to upgrade to something better.

Check out Pat's post for those 10 tips for great pictures!

What have you been shooting lately?

AnnMarie xoxo

I am linking up with these fun blog parties:
Share Your Cup
No Rules Weekend Blog Party
Best of the Weekend
Sweet Inspiration Link Party