Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Garden At Work

This is the season when growth in the garden accelerates. At our old house on Belmont, I had a sizeable vegetable garden for a few years. I finally gave it up, figuring it wasn't really cost effective. Moneywise, I'd do better just to shop for fresh produce at the weekly farmers market. When we moved to our current home, I resorted to flower gardening instead of vegetables. This type of gardening is creative work, a chance to express. In 1990, I became a "Master Gardener." This is a 12-week, 60 hour volunteer WSU Extention Program where university instructors teach and provide science-based information concerning horticulture and gardening practices. There's a fee for the supplies. Every Wednesday from 9:00-4:00, I would attend classes. During sessions, there are lectures on various topics given by experts, as well as hands-on demonstrations. There are also many organized activities including field trips (nurseries, gardens, farms, greenhouses...). Once you've completed the program, you agree to volunteer a certain amount of hours per year. One year I served my time at the SW Washington Fair at the Master Gardener's booth answering people's questions. Another year I donated my time at Jefferson Lincoln Elementary School, sprucing up a plot of land that had been neglected. This lasted a couple of years, then I gradually pulled away. Most of what I learned, I'm afraid I've forgotten. A few things stuck with me and I have the resource materials for reference. Now mind you, I'm not the lady gardener who knows every flower name, including the Latin. Nor am I one who keeps a detailed garden journal and uses graph paper to plot out elaborate landscape plans. No, digging in dirt, watering plants, pulling weeds, pruning, and deadheading give my mind a chance to relax and not worry about anything. Then later on, I get to reap the rewards of abundant growth. During the summer, I go outside and cut flowers to display inside the house. I get intoxicated by flowers, both by their scent and beauty. You might not have a garden space, but you can plant in pots and make a window box, patio, deck, or balcony absolutely breathtaking. I've planted tomatoes and strawberries this way. You might wonder why gardening is suddenly on my mind so much. Well, yesterday my husband and I took a "day trip" to the annual Tulip Festival in Skagit County. Wow, the colors were gorgeous! We had a great time. We took lots of photos. Soon, I'll post them for you to see. As they say, you've got to stop and smell the roses. Another saying, "Bloom where you are planted."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Own Creations

Building a "home" is a type of creativity that is open to all. Although you may think you don't have an "eye" for art or the patience for handmade work, you can still discover the joy and bliss of making your home a true work of art. My home is my hobby. Crafting becomes an art whenever I stencil a wall, design a wreath, spruce up a 2nd hand find, decoupage a tray, or plant a window box . My residence is where I can make my surroundings reflect my style and passion. I enjoy putting my personal "stamp" on things. It makes them "one of a kind" items. Home is where we know we belong. I'm more relaxed and at ease in my own abode than anywhere else in the world. Are there projects you've been meaning to tackle? Go ahead, give into the urge. Remember, your dwelling place is the essence of your subsistence.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Southern Belle

The term is derived from the French word belle, meaning beautiful. The expression came to refer to a charming young lady of the Old South gentry. A true belle epitomized hospitality, beauty, and chastity. When I think of a southern belle, I envision plantations, staircases, chandeliers, parlors, porches, cast iron gates, oak trees, Spanish moss, hoop skirts, petticoats, corsets, hats, parasols, hanky, gloves, cotillions, mint juleps, hand fans, servants, silver tea service. . . basically, females who lived pampered, genteel lives of leisure. Based on those images, I certainly don't call myself a southern belle. Instead, I'm a bona fide GRITS (girl raised in the south). In fact, I have the T-shirt to prove it. A GRITS gal has equal parts of charming sincerity and keen, clever wit. She has impeccable manners, high expectations, and classy style. She is hopelessly in love with history, tradition, and religion. She's feminine, charming, flirtatious, hospitable, and possesses beauty (clear skin and a winning smile). She doesn't sweat, she glistens. She may have either a hissy fit, a conniption, or fly off the handle. She uses words like ain't, y'all, reckon, fixin,' do-hicky, yes-ma'am, yes-sir, yonder, directly, everwhichway, smack-dab. . . She uses phrases like "I do declare," "O shoot," "by and by," bless her heart," "living' daylights," "high on the hog," "all-get-out," "bound and determined," and "lo and behold," "aim to," Lord, have mercy," "older than dirt," and "come hell or high water." She makes friends while standing in the grocery line. She eats gulf shrimp, gumbo, jambalaya, fried chicken, catfish, black-eyed peas, fried okra, grits, biscuits, butter beans, cornbread, fried green tomatoes, fried apples, banana pudding, and red velvet cake. If you need a home-cooked meal, a place to lay your head, she won't hesitate to oblige. She endures rough times with grace and flair. Well, to those who know me best, what do you think, am I a GRITS? There are other titles for today's southern belle: Ya-Ya Sisters (gals with shortcomings), Steel Magnolias (soft and beautiful on the outside, strong and tough on the inside), Sweet Potato Queens (real women, figure flaws and all), Bulldozers disguised as powder puffs, S.L.U.T.S.(southern ladies under tremendous stress), and D.O.T.S.(daughters of the south). The lyrics of this song says it all:

She's a product of being raised in the country
She knows her roots and works hard for the money
Southern drawl and dark tan legs
Ain't nothing like a woman southern born and bred
She loves her Mama 'n Daddy and the Lord to death
Actin' innocent and playing hard to get
Girls tonight, man they're out on the town
GRITS man, Girls Raised in the South...

As you stroll through this blog site, take a moment to comment.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Decoration Day

Growing up, our family and distant connections attended "Decoration Day." Here in the NW people have no idea what I'm talking about. Every 3rd Sunday in May, we'd picnic at the cemetery on my mother's side of the family. And, every 1st Sunday of June we'd do the same on my father's side. Both places were in the "backwoods" meaning there wasn't much of anythinhg nearby. It took an hour or so riding in the car to reach the destination. Sounds funny to most, but Decoration Day was normal to me.

Decoration Day was intended to remember, honor, and show respect toward "loved ones" who had made it to the "other side." In the rural South, many churches have their own cemeteries near the chapel. If your family member was connected to the church in some way, you could be buried in a plot for free.

Along the way, my mother and father would always point out where they were born (neither was born in a hospital). I would try to imagine their lives back then. Both places were near abandoned "mining" towns. They would exchange stories of people I never knew.

I looked forward to "good" eating, playing with cousins, and running and chasing all over the graveyard. Graves were covered with flower sprays and baskets. The grounds were colorful. The Baptist and Methodist churches would have afternoon "singings." You could hear the music through the open windows. The grownups would bring lawn chairs, folding tables, playpens, fly swatters, and delicious dishes. People dressed up in their finest and photos were snapped. Women wore corsages. If the flower(s) was white, it meant to all that her mother had passed away. If she wore a red corsage, her mother was still living. Parents would talk to 1st, 2nd 3rd cousins, and great aunts and uncles as they read all the tombstones pointing out all the connections. Of course as kids we didn't pay close attention. We were there to have fun. A few years back, I did some family history research and visited both sites, except this time it wasn't Decoration Day. I took pictures to document names and dates.

By the way, my mother was famous for her "strawberry cake," it was expected by everyone. If she didn't make it, it was a great disappointment. Some years she'd also make her "coconut" cake. My dad's sister made "out of this world" fried peach pies. My mother's sister could be counted on to bring ambrosia salad. My grandmother would bring a baked ham.

It was a great tradition, that unfortunately, my kids know nothing about. Makes me sad, really.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Isn't spring glorious? Spring is a lady dressed in her Sunday best. When the sun comes out and buds pop open in color, they renew my spirit and I get energized. After enduring long, dreary, drab days, spring is a welcome sight. As I write, I can look outside and see a bouquet of dwarf yellow daffodils brightening my day. The new season makes me want to make invitations, fill containers with fresh arrangements of flowers, set a pretty table, bake a beautiful cake, and welcome friends and family into my home. Placing flowers on the porch will cause guests to linger a moment before knocking. May the joy of spring bloom in your heart.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Welcome to my blog. I've enjoyed viewing others' blogs for months now and finally have gotten the guts to start my own. It's a pleasure to make my digital debut. Please bear with me as I fine-tune this site in the days to come. Apologies in advance. So, here starts the journey. Launch.

Without further ado -camera, lights, action: Allow me to introduce myself, it is a pleasure to "virtually" meet you, I'm Nina. Born and raised in the South. Moved to the Northwest in 1979. Happily married to the love of my life who loves to spoil me. Bore and raised two great sons who are both married to lovely wives. Devoted grandmother to two beautiful granddaughters (no kidding) and a grandson on the way (due in July). Work as a substitute teacher which means I get days off and still make a little "play" money and still have some leisure time to pursue my interests.

Speaking of interests: I enjoy scrapbooking/cardmaking, home decor, fashion, travel, playhouse theatre, shopping (not at malls), entertaining/hosting, cooking, gardens, reality tv shows, quiz shows, magazines, catalogs, reading, music, friendships, socializing, grand-parenting, ... well you get the idea, after all I am a woman!

Intention: Share thoughts, pictures, stories, conversations, memories, theories, wishes, experiences, ideas, encounters, impressions, latest developments, activities, suggestions, problems, comments, views, quips, complaints, impressions, tips, challenges, and perspectives.

If you read this, I am delighted. Hope it meets your approval. Please respond. I welcome your comments. I promise I'll take time to read all blogs.