Saturday, April 2, 2016

March Madness

I always look forward to spring time.  Winter is soooo LONG.  Thankfully the dreary winter weather usually clears up in my wonderful area and 
March heralds all the signs of springtime.  
Little by little the days start getting longer.  You notice that it's 6pm and it isn't dark yet! You become aware of birds singing, starting before dawn and continuing on throughout the day.  
And best of all, warmer weather.  
We'll start to get a few days with temps in the 70's which is always a thrill.

The grass will seem greener, less drab.

Little shoots of springtime bulbs will start popping up all around my garden.

I snapped this photo on march 1st showing the 'Ice Follies' daffodils that had popped up and started to bloom in my garden.  This is a patch that gets sun all day with a southern exposure and is surrounded by the concrete of the of the driveway and the pool area which creates a warmer little micro climate giving them a jump on the springtime show that is a welcome sight.

Thrifty Finds:

This cute Agatha Christie book appeared in one of the second hand shops I frequent on the same day I discovered a terrific new flavor of Peeps that I knew I had to try.  

How cute is that .25 cent teacup?
I like to arrange my finds and take a photo so I will be able to remember when I got them.  Sometimes, like in this instance, I like the arrangement so much I keep some of my finds together. I found that little jewelry chest for such a great price I couldn't pass it up. It had some horrible sticky packing tape wrapped around it to keep the drawers closed and intact I suppose but it left a gooey mess and stain so I supposed that's why no one wanted it.  I think it looks adorable on my kitchen counter now, especially with the darling little Watership Down book displayed on top of it and the faux jadite bowl I got from World Market, recently.  I think it will be great to keep tea bags in. 
The whole arrangement just says Springtime to me.   
The Holly Hobbie dolly was only .50 cents and she's in perfect condition.

I thought she would be happy reunited with her sisters Heather, Carrie, Amy and friend, Raggedy Ann nestled in with the other dollies in my collection that I keep in a vintage wicker baby doll buggy.

Found this practically pristine gem of a wheely suitcase for a great price that I thought would come in handy on future travels.  It's within the carry on bag criteria that states baggage must measure less than 22" in length x 14" wide x 9" high. 

And it goes great with ...  

Happy Mail:

My fantastic sister sent me the gift of this gorgeous Lo & Sons OG bag.  She had been admiring them for some time and finally felt it was time to splurge on one, to celebrate her new job, with the added bonus of a super sale price.  She had so much fun shopping online she decided to order up one for me as well!

          Photo of my sister & I on the Golden Gate Bridge, at sunset, walking across it 11/2015.
                                                                How cool is that?
She is an absolute dear!  
I feel so Lucky to have such a wonderful thoughtful darling sister.
Sister Forever!
Now we are ready to jet somewhere, European Vacation here we come!!!

What's Blooming in my Garden: 

One of the most terrific plants in my garden are the Hellebores. Not only are they evergreen, but they bloom early, before anything else, and stay in bloom for many weeks.  Some of the most charming varieties have these sweet little freckles.  Later, the flowers form seed pods, adding interest well into the summer.  Then this magnificent plant self sows so you can have even more Hellebore for your garden or to share with friends.

Another early bloomer in my garden are the Camellia bushes that surround the veranda with their white, red and coral blossoms that resemble a rose.  Unfortunately, they don't have a scent.   We inherited them when we bought the house in 1994.  I added this stunning pink blossomed bush at least 5 years ago and this is the first year that it has bloomed with a remarkable amount of luscious baby pink flowers.  Looking at it makes me smile.

Once a year this magnificent giant saucer magnolia tree blooms in my yard filling the air with the sweet scent of it's big pink blossoms.

What I See When I Walk:

Daffodils everywhere!

I enjoy walking down Main street turning on Cascade and seeing this charming storybook house in Washington Park.  It looks even more positively dreamy when all the daffodils bloom along its curving front walk.

Lately, I've had the pleasure of taking a few walks with my friend, Donna.  On a cold day, we met at Reynolds House & Gardens

to take a brisk, almost 2 mile stroll around the grounds even crossing over to Graylyn.

It's a beautiful old castle like estate that is a hotel and venue now for receptions.

I like taking pictures of interesting things like this pool house.

And these magnificent gates.

Remarkable mossy stone.

I captured a few early spring shots around of the grounds.

Tree Magic.  
I like the way the bare branches look against the sky.

The peaceful woods at Reynolda house are covered with spring blooming Snowdrops & daffodils.

Anyways, that's what March Madness means to me.   
Spring time changing the landscape from dreary to lush, all in a space of a few weeks in March.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Last week of Feb

The garden is started to wake up.  There's little bits of greenery popping up all around.

In the Garden:

I started doing some gardening chores.  Winter is a good time to trim shrubs, trees and bushes while branches are bare of foliage so you can really see the shape.  I trim out any dead or crossing limbs making sure that all that's left are nice outward growing branches.

However, please note that the best time to trim flowering bushes and trees is after they bloom.  Trimming them in winter will reduce the amount of blooms.

Rudbeckia or Black eyed Susan and Lychnis or Rose Campion, the tiny pink flower dancing among the daylillies in my June 2015 sunny garden border.
This is also a good to time transplant stuff.  I get loads of volunteer Rudbeckia, Lychnis and Lunaria popping up from seed in the lawn so I scoop them out and transplant them to a better spot inside the garden borders.  I try to get them all transplanted before the first time I cut the grass.  Best time to do this is just before it rains.

Another chore that helps tremendously, but I sometimes forget to do in time, is sprinkling compost or fertilizer around the bulb foliage shoots, ornamental shrubs and perennials to give them some extra va va voom.  If I don't have enough compost I get a couple of bags of cheap plain flower fertilizer from Lowe's or Walmart.  This stuff can burn so it's best to use before the tender shoots emerge.  

What I've been Dreaming about:

During a break from Gardening, I sipped a relaxing cup of tea while I perused the Viking River Cruise brochures, relaxing, studying and dreaming on the veranda.  
My sister, Mary Ann wants to treat me to another unforgettable glorious vacation for my BiG Birthday this year.  Isn't she an angel?

Thrifty Finds:

Nabbed another SK book that was on my
dwindling list of 'SK Books I Need to Look For'.  
Gotta Love that creepy cool cover!

What I See When I Walk:

Love this striking historical home on the corner of Main Street & Cascade in Washington Park.  They've done a swell job restoring it.  It had been hidden behind overgrown bushes and trees for many years.  

Cyclamen are so pretty with their silvery heart shaped leaves and lovely blossoms in shades of pink & red.  I admired these beauties for sale but I only took a photo of  them because I seem to excel at killing them, cannot keep them alive despite my affection for them.

What I've been watching:

We decided to reserve The Martian from Redbox, finally.  
What a great movie!  
I'm crazy about space movies in general and this one was a real favorite.  I was swept away.  It was so good we watched it again before returning it the next day.  It was fascinating, loved the story line, acting and soundtrack.  I noticed how the music lyrics reflected what was going on in the movie ~ Genius!

And such clever dialog, I really appreciate the use of humor when it's done so well.
Fav Lines -
"I am the greatest botanist on this planet." ~Mark Watney
"Mars will fear my botany powers!" ~ Mark Watney
"If we are going to have a secret project called 'Elrond', then I want my code name to be 'Glorfindel'
"Rich Purnell is a steely-eyed missile man!"
"Mark Watney: Space Pirate"
"He asked us to call him Capt. Blondebeard" ~ Mindy Park

 Another one of my biggest thrills with this movie was the Great Music Soundtrack.  Yes, I'm a massive FaN of Disco!

The song, Don't rock the Boat, always reminds me of me of my grammy poppy cuz we'd sing it together back in the 1970's.

Then there's that part at the end when he's pulling 12 G's rocketing from Mars, 
just before he goes all  Iron Man, 
that reminds me of that Disney World ride, Mission to Mars, later known as Mission: Space.  
Boy, that kicked my butt!  
According to Wikipedia that ride was only 2.5 G's -

  "The attraction exposes riders to forces up to 2.5G, more than twice the force of gravity at the Earth's surface (effectively multiplying a rider's weight by 2.5)."

What I See When I Walk in Old Salem:

I took these photos during my morning constitutional, recently, in this wonderful historic area about a mile from my house.  It's really quiet and empty that early, so it feels even more like taking a walk back in time.

So many great views walking down Main street.

I like the way the bare tree branches look against the sky.

   Salem College in the town square

I always feel so inspired after a nice walk.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Treats after a Hectic Week

I went back to school this week for a class hosted by the DOT, that's a gov acronym for the Department of Transportation.  I applied for a job as a school bus driver and there are many things you need to train for to do that job. First of which is taking a class to learn the basics on driving in order to get my CDL license with S & P endorsements and pass the written test. 

It was so cold and windy outside, there was a breeze of cold air coming through the cracks around our front door.  So I taped some insulating foam to keep it out.

Since the wind was howling and I was stuck inside.

Full of nervous energy about the impending storm and my upcoming busy week going back to school I decided to make apple dutch baby, for the first time 💖🍎💞 

Got the idea to try making it after seeing a post on my instagram.  
I had never even heard of Dutch Baby before that morning! 

The first photo on the left is with all the ingredients in the frying pan just before it goes it the oven.  Check out all that cinnamon spice beauty
The next 2 shots are just after the Dutch Baby gets out of the oven.  It poufs up like a souffle with yummy caramel-y apple Goodness.  
What a knockout dish!! 

Thanks for the idea @winsome_ginger ! 

What I've been cooking:

I, also, made up a big pot of pea soup so we could have ready made food all week.

I'm kinda over the winter wonderland look but I thought the puppy footy prints were cute 

All the schools were cancelled due to another blasted snowstorm.  My class was pushed to the next day causing me to have to rearrange my schedule a bit since I wouldn't be able to take Emily to her classes on Thursday.
How come all my BiG exciting plans are thwarted, lately, by snowstorms?!

The next morning I arrived on campus before the 8:30 am start time only to find out that since the schools were on a 2 hour delay, due to the winter weather, our class wouldn't start until 10 am.

So I killed time looking for thrifty finds and was rewarded by discovering these treasures just waiting for me.

Thrifty Finds:

Nice score, cute lamp base, handbag, dvd and books.  Mary Stewart has all those great books about Merlin and King Arthur.

Ps I packed my lunch items in that sweet little brown shopping bag leftover from Christmas. My son in law drew that pic on one of his gifts to wifey {my daughter}  It was too cute to throw away.
{I never throw anything away that still has some usefulness}
It sure did lift my spirits whenever I spotted it during this hectic week.

Here's what I'm Loving:

I packed these in my lunch bag so I brought a few of these to nibble on.  
I found them at Target for $1.49

The next morning I was in for quite a shock. 

Wake around 6am, still dark, first thing I see when I get downstairs and walk in the kitchen is 
my dome light is on in my car 
that is parked in my driveway and a guy is sitting in there! 
Right in the driver's seat with the door open.  
I called 911! 
That adrenaline rush / fight or flight response is nuts!  My hands were shaking so bad it was difficult to dial. 
The operator asks if I can still see him,  my house is dark inside, I know he can't see me and I give a description.  As I'm describing what he's doing he gets out shuts the door and 
walks across the street.  He pauses briefly in front of my neighbor's house but they've got 4 outdoor lights burning brightly so he moves on, walking down my street out of my sight.  Then I see a cop car zoom by, no sirens, maybe only 2 minutes have elapsed since I placed my 911 call. 
I thank the operator, grateful for her help.
After another few minutes, I see a flashlight bobbing around my car, then a cop came to the back door saying they caught the guy a block away & he admitted he was going thru cars probably looking for money or electronics to pawn. He lives down main street. 
Thank you to the WSPD for the quick response!!!
 I didn't notice anything missing from my car, my Aldi quarter was still in the drink holder, along with a few pennies & my granny sunglasses that ya put on over your eyeglasses.  
I never felt in any real danger, just shocked.  
What a morning!
There was probably only a 2-4 minute window of time to even notice that dome light on in my car & the reason why.  And I just happened to be heading in to the kitchen for my morning coffee at the very same time.  
When I first noticed the dome light on, my thought was,  O Golly, was I so exhausted I left it on last night - wait! And the door open too?!
Funny the stuff that goes through your head. 
Bad guy! Good ending though.  I'm pressing charges.
And keep the back door light on all night.
Then I had to get back to studying ...and drinking my coffee.

After ~ 6 hours of class time, I drive home, grab some soup for dinner and then study hard all evening until I was so tired it was time for bed.  I only had 2 days to learn this stuff.  On the third day was the test.

 Class is kinda long & boring but i have to pay attention, there's a lot of info to go over for test. 

We need to get 80% correct on 4 different tests on driving general knowledge, school bus, air brakes & transporting passengers safely. 
All my hard work studying paid off. 
I passed all my 4 written tests!!! was grueling but now i feel like celebrating!!!
So relieved to be done with that part at least!
I made it over the first hurdle ~Whoohoo! 
In the afternoon we finished bloodborne pathogens & did the drug test .  

Next step will be to get to get an employee physical & TB test, 
I have to wait for papers from Raleigh before I get my physical then get that paperwork turned in, wait to get scheduled for the
3 days Behind the Wheel Training & pass the skills test.
Next step then is to go to DMV to apply for my CDL permit, that'll cost $144! 
  After all that there's a mandatory 14 day waiting period before I'd be employable. 

So wish me luck!

After such a busy hectic week I decided to pick up a Little Caesar's deep dish pizza on the way home from picking up my daughter to celebrate my scholastic victory.  
Boy, was that a treat!  I pigged out on 4 pieces.

The next evening we went out to celebrate some more with Sarah & Steve.  They both had good news this week, too. Sarah just found out she got the job with Wake Forest she had applied for and Steve had just finished up a big project.  Mazel!
They treated us to a Lovely meal at Ichiban Japanese Restaurant.   Sarah & I ordered sushi and  shared some of our choices.  I forget what they all were called but it all tasted excellent especially with the ginger shavings which I'm crazy about.
I wish I would've gotten a photo of the gigantic bowl that Steve's pho was served in.  

Afterwards we took a brisk stroll down to Dewey's Bakery for dessert treats.  I had a hard time deciding what to choose with all the gorgeous goodies available.

I LOVE looking at cupcakes almost as much as I like eating them.

How cute are these little chocolate ganache heart shaped cakes?

Next stop on our stroll down Thruway shopping Center was the pet store.  We watched the fish, petted a couple of kitties and I was enthralled with these beautiful birdies.  Their color is stunning, isn't it?  Thank you for a Fun evening!

Can't stop thinking about this cute mug I saw at Dewey's Bakery. 
Don't you LOVE it?  My birthday isn't for months and months.

yep, I gave my hair a chop.