Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Red Delicious Memories

It's strange how something so simple can trigger a flood of wonderful memories. Last week, driving down the road I passed a guy selling 8 lb bags of apples for $5. I had the natural reaction that anyone would, I'll stop, buy two bags and make apple butter. That WAS your first thought right? :-) 

Anyway, I bought two bags. They were nice apples. They weren't the kind of pumped up, glossy, Supermen of apples that you find in the grocery store. They were the smaller, apples that real people grow on real trees in a backyard type setting. Even though I know that wasn't where these "guys" came from, it still reminded me of the apple tree that my Mammaw has growing on the hillside in the middle of the horse pasture: REAL apples.

When I was younger and lived at home, I would walk through the pasture to Pappaw and Mammaw's and pass that tree on the way. I might pet the horses, pick an apple, feed them one, feed me one. If it was that time of year when they were falling, we'd take a bag and pick them up, trying to avoid the bees and take the bag to Mammaw. Where she made the best stuff happen with those apples...Mammaw's Apple Pie!!

Pappaw and I would sit on the carport peeling the apples. You had to have the right set up. We had the bag of apples turned on it's side on the table so we could reach in and grab one, round cake pans for the scraps and a big bowl for the apple slices. He had a way of turning work into a fun time. I would listen to his stories and he was always interested in whatever I had to say. If I cut a little too much of the meat of the apple away with the peeling, he'd say, "Now, I thought we were peeling apples not slicing them." That was always followed by his little chuckle. He'd patiently show me how to get the knife just right to peel the apple.

The biggest challenge was to peel the apple keeping the whole peeling in tact. This was important!! My cousins and brothers and I would throw the peeling over our shoulder and let it land on the ground. Whatever letter the peeling made, that was the first initial of the person we were going to marry. Now, this obviously is an old wives tale. If we had married someone with every initial that popped up, we'd be in trouble. But, it was fun. The peel would land and we'd say, "Hmmmm, S I bet their name is Stephen or Samuel." We found the silliest things to entertain ourselves.

Fun memories. Now, let's get back to the apple butter I was going to make. My great grandmother always made apple butter. Of course, the best. She made it in a copper kettle outside over an open flame. She always put a silver dollar in the pot to keep the apple butter from sticking. My grandmother then carried on the tradition baking hers in a roasting pan in the oven for 4 hours. My mother then carried on the tradition using a crock pot. (Aren't crock pots the grandest invention?) This is also the method I used just this past weekend. It was finished last night just in time to have some warm apple butter on our dinner rolls.

Just a simple stop to buy apples turned in to such a stream of reminiscence. Thanks for stopping by to "listen." Hope to post again soon!

Until then, EnJOY!
Thee Alley Kat

Sunday, January 15, 2012

And, hearts. <3

I promised a baseball project. However, as you will learn, sometimes I take a tangent. :-)

Today is my Mother's birthday. I wanted her present to be the first featured blog project. She loves the vintage/shabby chic look.

Her present, a vintage valentine door arrangement I made using a picture frame, a wooden heart and some ribbon from the stock pile, a vintage cupid printed from the Internet then decoupaged and doily heart used as a stencil. Just wanted to take a quick minute to share.

Thee Alley Kat

Friday, January 6, 2012

Coming out of the Cocoon

I'm a Pisces. Not really into the whole horoscope thing. But, by all descriptions Pisces are dreamers, floating through life on blissful, creative thoughts. That IS me!! I can be a realist when life necessitates. But, I don't like it. My husband is a realist. He keeps me grounded. I can't say that is an easy job. Out of respect for him, I try to play along. ;-) There are a few instances where I feel a good plan is necessary: vacation, parties, and what project is next, and next, and next.

Over the years, I've grown a little and become somewhat more of a planner. I like to think of it as "coming out of the cocoon." (Yes, that is fairy taled way to look at it.) I find it more and more important to plan in order to squeeze everything into a limited amount of time. Below I've shared some of my plans and planning aids. Please feel free to share yours with me!!

My garden. We have 3 raised vegetable beds. Each year we've grown some items. But, this past year was the first of the 10 years we've lived in our home that we've had time to give it a good effort. It has been so rewarding to walk out the patio doors with a basket and return with some goodies to freshly add to a meal. In fact, today, in the middle of winter, I harvested some rosemary to add to potatoes. Last year, I kept a gardening journal (still could use some improvement on frequency of entries. But, a good effort!) Going to implement some changes, couple more of this plant, one less of another, etc. With a hectic life it would be difficult to remember what worked and what didn't without notes to plan for the next growing season. (You can check with your local extension office for planting schedules or consult "The Farmer's Almanac.")

Budget. Last year we had the privilege of taking a Dave Ramsey Financial Planning Class at our church. We've always had long term retirement plans and have always looked ahead for big purchases. But, this year, we've gained some great planning tools and have looked at this coming year in a different light. The small investment of time and money we spent to take the course have been well worth it.

You can check out some available resources at: http://www.daveramsey.com/

Spring Cleaning. Spring revolves around one thing at our home, baseball. Because our oldest is so involved in the sport, we want to be there for him and with him, we have to plan for it. The past couple of years, I've tried to Spring clean during the season. It was frustrating and some tasks just simply waited until late into the summer when the season ended. Let's face it, having someone do it for you just isn't always in the budget. So, this year Spring cleaning is already in full swing. It's not that I obsess about cleaning. However, every house needs a good once over to clean out the cobwebs, clothes that are the wrong size, kitchen appliances you no longer use, to a name a few. It simply makes you feel better to do it!!

Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum Titusville, FL
 Vacation. We like to rent condos when we go to the beach. If you haven't before. Some great rental sites are http://www.vrbo.com/ and http://www.homeaway.com/. You correspond directly with the condo owner. Just remember, show there home the same respect or better than you show your own. This is one of my favorite events to plan. I spend time on tourist websites before we go looking for fun outings to participate in with the kids, prices, hours of operations. Vacation is a party after all and I don't want to miss a minute of fun time spending it looking for something to do after we get there.

Projects. I am ALWAYS planning for the next project. Each time I pass the clearance rack at the hobby supply and see what's marked down, I pick up any items I have (or may have) a future use for and store it in my creative space. I have so many projects planned now that I could stay busy for the next two years and LOVE every minute of it!!!!

One last note. A few years ago my mom bought me a book by Peter Walsh called "How to Organize (Just About) Everything." It is not only a helpful resource, but also, a fun read. It includes everything from how to have a tag sale to how to run for President of the United States. I enjoy referencing it.

Wow, that's an ecclectic mix of plans. Looking forward to sharing more details about each of these topics later. Thanks for taking time to stop by!! Exicted about the next blog I've planned. It's a baseball themed project for my oldest son's bedroom wall. As with most all of my projects, it's on a minimal budget. Can't wait to share!!

Until then, enJOY,
Thee Alley Kat