Sunday, July 5, 2015

Just A Small Bite

My son hosted a wonderful backyard picnic following our small town's major event of the summer. 

That would be the Fourth of July Parade. It was even longer when I was a child. The major business in my town was a trucking company (our football team is still the Truckers!) and every semi in the business was in the parade. We still have every fire department in the county, including townships, every military vehicle in anyone's collection, the 3 wheeled motorcycle club, the 4-H clubs, every civic organization, every police and fire department, every band or marching group. Every vintage tractor, every antique car, pick up trucks of Little Leaguers, scouts and even tumbling down the street by dance studios. Every fair and festival princess and every veterans group. And I can't forget the politicians. Floats include our garden clubs, every church and every vacation bible school, family farms and, new this year, two floats that featured live bands! A new bar/burger place had their evening entertainers on a float (we were all rockin') and a local bluegrass festival had a 3 piece on their float, too. It was really fun and I hope we see more music next year. All in all, this year's parade lasted about 2 1/2 hours while we were sitting in perfect weather in the high 70's on a shaded tree lawn. I am always amazed at the crowd watching the parade since it seems like everyone in town is in the parade!
Mr Merry discussing the parade with our second youngest grandchild.

After the parade we headed to his gorgeous backyard where the dining delights began. He and his lovely wife had invited all my children and grandchildren, as well as her family, too. And because they are good neighbors, they included the neighbors on either side, too. And that meant even more food. We enjoyed hamburgers and hot dogs from his new grill, potato salad, cole slaw, a fruit salad, a red and blue jello salad with a layer of homemade whipping cream that was to die for, two different and delicious baked beans, cheesy potatoes, sausage and cheese with crackers, spinach artichoke dip, brownies, vanilla cupcakes with red/white/blue sprinkles, cupcakes with candy centers and the richest frosting you ever tasted, and a layered sponge cake with blueberries and strawberries. And an appetizer I found on Pinterest the night before.
We had our three oldest grandchildren spend the night. The oldest is 7 and the twins are 5, so I knew I couldn't get too fancy. These were very well received! Inexpensive and tasty. I ran to Aldi's and bought some cherry tomatoes, the precooked bacon and cream cheese with onions and chives. I almost ran to the grocery for basil before I remembered I have two new basil plants in my flower bed! And I have accumulated tons of those flag toothpicks over the years.

These are so easy that my 5 year old granddaughter could make them herself!
Rocking the cat's eye sunglasses on her uncle's new stamped patio. 

I hope you all had a wonderful celebration this weekend.

Update: We were caught by our local newspaper's roving photographer! In the picture below, my two oldest grandsons are still saluting our flag while their sister has her eyes peeled for candy. Mr Merry and I are standing in the background. One of my lovely daughter in-laws is in the red shirt and everyone to the right are her cousins and their children. My oldest daughter and her husband are behind their children and the man in the red shirt between my grandchildren is someone I went to school with, who is married to the sister of one of my daughter-in-laws's aunts. He lost his first wife to lung cancer before she was 30 and his current wife (also a classmate) was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer almost a year ago and is fighting a valiant fight.  To continue the small town vibe, the lovely lady in pink, mother of the two adorable girls, the boy on her dad's lap and a newborn somewhere in the crowd is my daughter in-law's cousin and was one of my dad's hospice nurses when he was in the veterans home.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Today is the Day!

It is officially Orange Day Lily Day at my house! When I first purchased my house in 1978, it was basically a grey aluminum sided rectangle that greatly resembled a semi trailer or metal box. It did come with landscaping, both bushes and trees, planted so close to the foundation that it was practically under it and everything was growing sideways trying to reach sunlight or rain. We were 19 and could not identify anything, which lead to the most beautiful flowering trees and lilacs replanted behind our garage where our neighbor Peggy can enjoy them.
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These lilies used to grow wild out in ditches and such in the rural areas of our county. One day my mom and I threw some shovels in the back of my blue chevette, buckled the babies in car seats and went on a mission. We could not bring ourselves to pilfer from a farm ditch or private property, but when we came along a clump by some railroad tracks, well, the mission began. We took turns waiting in the car while we managed to dig up two large bundles.
Originally I split the clump along the side of our picket fence in the play yard. After a memorable day when my husband and I had a discussion about landscaping under these windows over breakfast, only to come home at lunch and find he had ripped out all the bushes while I was a work. I had no money to replace them so I transplanted the lilies under these windows. This worked great until they flowered and fell across the sidewalk behind this space and no one could reach the front door.  I had a row of Rose O'Sharon on the other side of the sidewalk, so we moved them in front of those bushes. As you can see, they love to spread! And that is one of the reasons I love them!

You can also see why the grass is not mowed and how wet it is by the invasion of the mushrooms in my front yard.
My favorite view of the orange blossoms is from my rocking chair on my front porch. No one can see me behind all this loveliness and I can watch the world go by behind them. Excuse the drying storage containers. I dumped out another storage closet and I am getting ready to dig through the saving with my shovel.

I hope everyone is enjoying these summer days, whether sitting in your garden or hiding indoors during a rain storm!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Anticipation

Do you see those tall green stalks? Those are my orange day lilies ready to pop! I am in joyful anticipation mode waiting for this to happen! We are having hot, humid days with bursts of thunderstorms so it should happen any day now It is my favorite time to sit on my porch. The lilies form a wall between me and the world, almost reaching the bottom of the hanging baskets! I would like to express my appreciation for my pink spirea for flowering just in time to provide some contrast.
The plan for my front yard garden to grow the biggest plants possible so that you can't see the weeds. (please do not mind the unmowed lawn, the thunderstorms have disrupted our mowing schedule. Our clay soil does not drain very well.)  This sea of green will be brightened by a row of the orange lilies leading to the door. I think you might be able to see my purple clematis flowering on the trellis by the window.
And a pop of pink by the front door. Excuse the messiness. There was an incident last night with grampa and a two-year-old grandson with plant watering that turned into mudpies.  I have 2 or 3 flats of various annuals planted on the opposite side of the lilies in the front yard, on the house side. Too many shadows to get a picture this morning. And - there is a secret, too. If you go down to the end of the porch, and peek over the railing - you find a fairy garden! Again, pardon the shadows.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Will You Be My Bridesmaid?


The proposal was on Mother's Day and her original plan was a July wedding! We managed to convince her to wait until October, but plans needed to begin right away. Both the bride and groom are one of five siblings and weddings need to be a family affair. One girl friend was also added to even the odds with the brothers.

I had pinned similar cookies to a Pinterest board long ago and the Bride was on board with the project the minute she saw the inspiration photo. We found the perfect individual boxes for each cookie and got to work. 

I  just happened to have cookie cutters in the shape of prom dresses and high heeled shoes. I am just that kind of person. We decided to stay with the dresses. We used our favorite sugar cookie dough recipe, but the first set were too "puffy".  The finished cookies resembled a) an old style light bulb or b) a Christmas bell. We played with the dough, added more flour and less baking soda, chilled it while we ran for coffee and tried again. Since the cookie cutter itself was a perfect fit in the boxes, we trimmed the cutouts with a knife to allow for skirt growth. We also shaped the bodice with our fingers to give it more shape and more of a waist.  Luckily we only needed eight perfect cookies (one for each bridesmaid and two for the flower girls who were on solid food).
After baking, cooling and running out for salads (a girl has to keep her strength up!), we got ready to decorate. I had stocked up on beads and pearls and had purchased that glitter sugar (I am not sure what it is really called) which really added glamour to the cookies. The sugar needs to be applied immediately in order to adhere to the cookie. 
I think you can see the glitter sugar at this angle. It added that touch of sparkle we needed. 
It took a few tries to get the hang of the tips for detail on the tiny skirts, but once we got started we couldn't be stopped. It was a contest to try and out do each other's creations! The wedding colors were gray and navy, but we really did not think they would make an appetizing cookie. We played with pure white bridal dresses, but decided a bit of Tiffany Blue would just make them that much better.
We had many leftover cookies. I took one plate to the priest and the seminarian where I was volunteering once a week. I wondered if they would find ball gowns a little odd in a cookie, but they gobbled them straight down!

We tried navy ribbon, but it lacked a certain something. After searching my sewing supplies we found some navy lace hem binding that was just perfect. We lined the boxes with navy shredded paper, placed the cookie, tied the ribbon and attached the labels!

All the ladies were very happy to be asked to serve. As a bridesmaid veteran herself, my daughter told the girls that they could wear their choice of a sleeveless navy knee length dress.  The groom's sister had one in her closet from a wedding the week before, his step-sister was able to hem a floor length navy gown from a previous wedding, her sister-in-law had one in her closet, one sister-in-law purchased a dress which her seamstress was able to add velcro to the shoulder and side seams to allow nursing of the six week old ring bearer and her sister and friend were able to purchase a dress they could wear again for work or a nicer occasion.


The groomsmen were slighted in the cookie arrangement, but were thrilled to hear that a tuxedo rental would not be required. The gentlemen wore dark gray dress slacks (many had a pair in their closet) with a navy dress shirt and navy and coral striped tie that were the groomsmen gifts from the bride and groom. They appreciated the apparel more than another monogramed flask for their collection.

As you can see below, this low cost alternative to expensive wedding wear resulted in a very classy and cohesive wedding party and did not strain the pocketbooks of those asked to serve.
Still not an "official" wedding portrait. The wedding was in October 2014 and we are still waiting on pictures . . ..

Miss Merry