Friday, July 31, 2009

The Soothing Sound of Water




A couple of years ago my hubby gave me a white picket fence around our huge yard and a fountain. you can hear the water splashing into the fountain inside and out. To me water is soothing......our little house is by a lovely lake, the fountain, we love the gulf coast, sitting in the hot tub, taking a shower, even drinking glacier water is calming.

Everywhere water is a thing of beauty, gleaming in the dewdrops; singing in the summer rain; shining in the ice-gems till the leaves all seem to turn to living jewels; spreading a golden veil over the setting sun; or a white gauze around the midnight moon.
John Ballantine Gough


The mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that ‘W-A-T-E-R’ meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, joy, set it free.
Helen Keller

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zinnias and Sunflowers

Do you see the pink sparkly bug?





Two years ago I wrote a grant to get 2 raised bed garden plots outside my classroom and our main crops are tomatoes, basil, rosemary, peppers, lavender, zinnias, and sunflowers. Every few days we check out what's going on in the garden. Today we got a bumper crop of flowers! I have learned that the more you cut zinnias, the more flowers you will have. I made several arrangements and even sent one to our cross-the-street neighbors. I think zinnias are the most cheerful flower I know. Jeff and I have decided that sunflowers look better on the stalk than in an arrangement but they are a happy flower too!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bibb Salad











Jeff is at church and I decided to make him a special lunch since I go back to work next week. I purchased hydroponically-grown butter bibb lettuce and tri-colored tomatoes at the Chattanooga Market on Sunday so that is the base of my salad. I candied some pecans with honey, am adding some grilled chicken from last night's supper, and buttermilk cheese we got at Sweetwater Creamery. I found an apple cider vinegar vinaigrette recipe on the Internet ( why I have 50 cookbooks who knows, I just google what I am looking for!). I am also serving a little bowl of watermelon that we got on a trip to the Mennonite farm. This is a salad that combines many of our little trips we have taken this summer.....almost like a "farewell to summer vacation" salad.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lake Winnie







Just a few miles south of Chattanooga is an old-timey amusement park, not a Six Flags or Disney world, but Lake Winnepesaukah! It is a family run operation and has been around since I was little and it is still a fun place to be. Every year I take Miss V and anyone else that wants to go and ride the Cannonball Roller Coaster or the Pirate Ship or the Log Ride. This is a place that you can ride every ride without huge lines and fast passes. It is like stepping back in time and is such fun. When my son was little, he loved to "drive" the antique cars. Jessica's favorite when she was little was the Flying Dumbo ride and I think Miss V likes the the Caterpillar Roller Coaster. I just enjoy watching them all laugh and be little again.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Jeff's Oak Tree

Jeff's oak tree
Jeff's oak tree last year

A large oak tree at UTC


My hubby, Jeff, has always be on the hunt for big trees. This hunt was intensified when he worked as a surveyor. He was on a crew that worked around Athens Tennessee. That is where he found the biggest tree that he has ever seen in the south. It was a White Oak right outside of Athens near a farm. We have been to see and photograph the tree several times. Jeff even had a friend paint his picture beside this tree. But sad news, bad news, the last time we were up that way and stopped to see the tree, it had been cut down! Jeff said that the trunk was hollow and the tree was either struck by lightening or finally just died. Jeff thinks that tree was over 100 years old. Next time you are out and about....notice the trees.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Library Card




When I was 10, I got my first library card! It was so exciting to go to the parking lot of the Red Food Store and check out books from the Bookmobile. In case you are too young, a bookmobile is like a mobile home filled with books that goes around to specific locations on specific days. I could check out 5 books at a time. I am still an avid fan of the public library, in fact whenever we travel to a big city, I always visit the main branch of the library. But the library doesn't have just books...you can check out DVD's and CD's for free, use the Internet, and read all the current magazines. My absolute favorite are the books on CD, I am always listening to a story. I really enjoy Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum's series, it is so entertaining. I look forward to driving just so I could listen to the story.
The children's programs are another fabulous addition to our public library. Every Tuesday I take Miss V to Adventure Club, a program that includes reading aloud at least 5 books, a craft, and even a short movie. This is free to any child. Today we went to the end-of-the-summer party hosted by the library. Any child that read 10 books or more could attend, and I am proud to say that Miss V read 36 books. The children made paper harmonicas, painted glass paperweights, decorated crowns, went fishing for prizes, and even made slime! They gave each child a book and a Popsicle. Miss V won a great prize in the drawing. There were even "jumpy things" if you wanted to stand in a long, long line. The public library is a wonderful place, why don't you check it out!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Show Time!

Miss V 's Picasso
Miss V doing the Bone Dance!




Every October Miss V.'s school has a carnival and she performs. She dances, sings, and plays a pink electric guitar. I love fall and I love to watch her in her performances. She and her mom, Jessica, also hip hop dance at Barking Legs, a theatre on Dodds Ave. I never did much in the way of actual performing but I would have loved too! Even my son Ben, sang and danced in Godspell this spring and did a fantastic job! All my kids paint and draw and are so talented. I am so proud of them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Squash and Blackberries




We have a farm, at least we have about 10 acres of land that we would someday like to have a huge veggie and flower garden, a fruit orchard, pecan trees, and bees. We have started on our dream. We have 2 beehives that were started this spring and are doing very well. We do have an old apple and a pear tree that we plan to harvest fruit from in the fall. We have plans to plant 12 apples trees, 2 or 3 pecan trees, peach trees, and a fig tree this winter, did you know that November is when you plant these trees in the south? We do have deer fencing around a huge area that would be our veggie and flower garden, with some squash and tomato plants and my beloved zinnias. It is necessary to have deer fencing because our farm has woods all along the back and the deer come up in droves to nibble grass and whatever else they can reach. We are blessed to have an abundance of wild blackberries! Today was perfect for picking.....65 degrees and light rain. We left home early and in no time picked around 2 quarts of berries. Then Jeff visited the garden and picked enough squash for our supper. Looks like blackberry crisp and stuffed squash is on the menu tonight!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

School's around the corner







I left home around 10:00 to go and work on my storage closet at school and did not leave until 6:30. I wish that I had taken before and after shots to show how much work I did! There were 5 other teachers working on their classrooms and we do not come back to school for 2 more weeks. Please do not believe that teachers don't work year round, because we do. Most teachers are type A's, at least the teachers at all the elementary schools where I have worked are! We want our classrooms to be perfect, everything HAS to match and be color coordinated. My co-worker, Connie, repainted part of an existing mural with the same paint that we had used on our wall so it would match. We chatter in the hall about new learning centers and the best ways to actively engage children to learn. We discuss best practices and new positive discipline ideas. Even though I have taught for nearly 30 years, I still get excited when a new year begins. It's wonderful to have a job that you truly love!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Peaches











Wow! I have been so busy preparing my classroom and visiting with friends! Yesterday we went to the wonderful Chattanooga Market that is located near Finely Stadium. It was peach day and there were so many delightful booths with fresh produce and, of course, PEACHES! Jeff, Ruth, and I walked and looked and tasted many delicious foods. Ruth got a huge frozen peach lemonade that was amazing. We saw all different colors and types of tomatoes and peppers. We bought wonderful peaches from Cleveland, Ala. and the folks could not have been more helpful. We even got fresh lettuce that was hydroponically grown, right down the road in Chickamuga, Ga. There are so many things going on in our area. This was a great shopping adventure.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summer Reading







During the summer I read lots of novels and there are several ways I select them. There are the ones that my friends have loaned me which is always a great read, thanks Ruth and Mel! There are ones I see others reading and we chat about them and I get a "feel" if it is something I would like to read. These are a few of the authors that I enjoy,Janet Evanovich, Patricia Cornwell, Sue Grafton, Laurie R. King, and many others. I think that the reason I enjoy reading mysteries stems from the summer I turned 12. My neighbor, Jan Wyatt, owned the entire Nancy Drew Mystery Collection, and she loaned me each book, in order and I would literally read a book a day! I also loved to read Agatha Christie and watch Alfred Hitchcock movies. I really love to read books written by southern women, such as Susan Gregg Gilmores's Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen and Cassandra King's Queen of Broken Hearts and Same Sweet Girls and of course Jill Conner Browne's Sweet Potato Queens Series. It is like I am reading about my friends! What a wonderful way to travel to a different place, solve a mystery or just laugh out aloud, I must make time to read more!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Eric Carle




I have several favorite children's authors, but in my top 5 is Eric Carle. Not only do I appreciate his creative stories, that always teach a lesson, I am crazy about his illustrations. Eric Carle is 80 year old and is still creating children's literature. His website:www.eric-carle.com. is a treasure trove of ideas and inspiration. Near the end of school, my pre-k class does a huge Eric Carle unit and we make a 20 foot mural in our hallway using ideas from the book, Mr. Seahorse. My co-teacher and the children paint for days before we create the mural using all the painting techniques we can think of. We even used a sand/glue/paint technique for a fish. We then turn the paper over and have the children trace a template for whatever sea creature they wish to make. Connie and I cut them out only because 4 year olds sometimes get a little scissor-happy and wack off a tail or fin. We then glue all their creations in the same area so at year's end we cut the large mural into mini murals that go home with each child. What a great piece of art work for my kids to create! Thanks Eric Carle!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Power of Flowers







I don't know about you but I love flowers! I like for my husband to send me flowers on my birthday, I like flowers in my yard, I like to go and look at wildflowers in the woods as well as discovering a new field of flowers.
When we went to pick blueberries, we discovered a park in Dayton with
two large fields of flowers and had to stop and photograph them. Along interstates in Tennessee there have been multitudes of wildflowers planted. It is a beautiful site to see poppies and daisies by the hundreds as you go down the road.
When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other. ~Chinese Proverb

That is how I feel about flowers, they are a delight to the eye and their beauty feeds the soul.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Blueberry pickin'


Last evening we drove north of Dayton Tn. to pick blueberries. Last year we only had to go "down the road" to pick incredible organic blueberries. For some reason this is not a banner year for blueberries in our area. We picked for around 2 hours and got 2 gallons of berries. The berry patch was wonderfully maintained and the bushes were very accessible for picking. The Thedfords were so helpful and even helped us pick berries. Their website is: thedfordw@bellsouth.net. Jeff has already put them into zip lock bags and they are in the freezer. Always make sure that berries are completely dry when put into the freezer, we don't even wash our berries until we use them.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Jessica





My very talented daughter, Jessica, had a raw food tasting at Greenlife, the best grocery store in Chattanooga. She is a vegan vegetarian and is also very much into raw food. She made raw fruit leather and raw vanilla and chocolate ice cream. There were so many people tasting I could barely get a picture, but I managed! Check out her blog:
http://uncooked-art.blogspot.com/ to see some really neat recipes and ideas! I'm so proud of her!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Gold Friends


In girl scouts we learned a song:
" Make good friends, and keep the old.
One is silver and the other gold"
Well Cheryl is one of my "gold" friends, we met at MTSU where we both were proud members of Delta Zeta! We have shared ups and downs, births and deaths, laughter and tears and just recently reunited through Facebook. Say what you will, but I have been able to get back in touch with several high school and college friends through Facebook. Take the time to reconnect with those from your past that made a difference in your life, I have and am richer because of it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Busy as a Bee




I recently smoked my beehives, to check on them. It is not a wise idea to open up a hive of 20,000 bees to see what is going on, so smoke is used to calm them down, then you can take a peek. My bees seem to be very industrious, making honey comb and of course, honey. Did you know that each hive must make around 40 lbs of honey so they will have food all through the winter? I am in awe of how organized and intelligent bees are, they are doing well in spite of their not some knowledgeable keeper, but I am learning every time I go to the hives. I am kinda 'hyper'.... remember I teach 4 year olds and you got to be moving all the time! So when I go out to the hives, I must slow down and moving calmly and quietly. It is very therapeutic for me, another good reason for me to be a beekeeper.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Tale of Wet Reuben







We enjoy going out to the little house in the evening so Jeff can fish and I can sit in the hot tub. Our faithful companion, Reuben, loves to go out on the floating dock with Jeff and be the "fish lookout". He starts barking whenever Jeff casts a line and dances around the dock waiting to see a fish. Jeff is an excellent fisherman and catches bluegill and small mouth bass off our dock. He may catch 5 or 6 fish in an evening, being a catch and release kinda guy, he is most interested in the sport and skill it takes to catch the fish. Jeff catches his first fish of the evening and Reuben starts barking but instead of waiting for Jeff to reel in the fish and let him have his customary "fish-lick", Reuben jumps into the lake. Reuben is not a good swimmer, he is a mini Schnauzer and has very short legs. Jeff had to grab him around the middle and pull him out of the water. I don't think Reuben will ever jump in again! So ends the tale of wet Reuben.

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Favorite Plants







Coleus are my favorite planter plant. I Googled them to find out that coleus is a member of the nettle family and is a mint. That is amazing since I planted mint in each of my planters as a companion to my coleus. I also read that in the fall I can take cuttings from my plants, use a little rooting compound, and start new plants indoors and grow them all winter, then in early spring take more cuttings and plant those outdoors for the summer. Just wait till the last frost, it seems that coleus do not like the cold. I am going to try this method because this year I tried to grow them from seed and it was a failure! I should have started the seeds inside but I did not get the seeds in time so I planted them straight into my planter and they did not come up, well maybe some teeny tiny plants that were about 1 inch high. I went to K-Mart and their plants were marked down and I got 2 8-packs and they are gorgeous!