Monday, August 30, 2010

Gingerbread House!

Wanted to share with you my latest "re-do".  It's a gingerbread house I made about 7-8 years ago, that I designed based on one that was shown on a Christmas television special sponsored by Southern Living (At least I think it was them).  I remember seeing the house on their previews of the show earlier in the week and I was immediately taken with it's charm.  But the previews only allowed a second or two of viewing time, so I anxiously awaited the coming show.  Finally the day arrived and I was glued to the set, patiently going through each room of the house with the cameraman as they showed off the various decorations.  Finally, after what seemed like hours, they got to the kitchen and there sat the gingerbread house, in the background.  Suddenly the camera zoomed in.  By this time, I realized the show was almost over so I knew I wouldn't have much time.  I had paper and pencil at the ready and I was determined to memorize every detail I could in order to recreate my own version.  It's a good thing too because the camera stayed on the house for perhaps all of five whole great big seconds and then the show was over!  But I'd managed to capture the basic idea and it wasn't long before I was gathering my materials.  Here it is - The Fursdon Gingerbread House!

I can't remember if the original was edible, but I decided to make mine non-edible.  Instead of using white icing, which would detract from the woodland theme I wanted, I decided to use a glue gun instead.  Almonds on the roof top each received a white fabric paint design and Spanish moss was placed at the base surrounding the house.  This was interspersed with small red "berries" from one of many faux garlands I possess.  The terra cotta pot was the smallest I could find at the time, but I've since located many that are much smaller and more in scale with the actual house.  Also, the gingerbread sides and roof all came from a basic Christmas Gingerbread House kit!  I didn't bake any of it!  Far too complicated when you can have more fun decorating!!

The sticks surrounding the door came from my back garden, as did the "bark" for the little door, which had fallen off our River Burch tree!  Just a note - it's very important NOT to peel bark from trees, as this allows disease to enter and potentially kill the tree.  Tree bark, much like our human skin, is designed to protect the tree but, also like our skin, it generally sloughs off from time to time, making room for newer bark!  Then crazy souls like myself gather it up and use it in various projects!

These were the smallest little birds I could find and I love them.  They're adorable! 
You can see how it's beginning to deteriorate though.  Some of the almonds have fallen off, showing the dried glue at the top peak, and the gingerbread itself seems to be turning into a fine meal like substance!  Not sure what's going on exactly, but it's high time for a facelift!!

One of the sides showing still more decay, with a "window frame" of sticks that's fallen from the house to the "ground" below.  You can also see more places where the almonds have come off. 

I guess I ran out of birds!  The facelift will definitely include one in this wreath on the back of the house.  You can also see a vague design just below the wreath, where stick "window frames" had been glued.  Long gone by now, but again - will be added back soon!

I included this view to show you the long "log" on top of the house that blends the two sides together.  It's a pretzel stick!!  As you can imagine, I had a GREAT time recreating this house and it's lasted about 8 years (if my memory is correct).  The biggest threat to this type of project is moisture!!  And I have to admit, I didn't store it properly for many years, which only hastened it's decay.  I've since learned many things about proper storage and plan to have a special container for the next Fursdon Gingerbread House!!  May God Bless, Jan

Peaceful Bliss

Yes, it's been awhile since I posted; been way too busy.  I missed you, Ms. Blog!  But I'm back now and have a lovely view to share with you.  Actually - two lovely views.  The first is a yellow water lily that's blooming in Nigel's Koi pond.  They're so beautiful and the amazing thing is that they grow underwater!!  They come out early in the morning, and close up every evening.  Makes one treasure them all the more!  We have several of these sunshiny yellow ones and two or three fuschia pink ones!  I love the way the lattice work of the arbor above is reflected in the water; looks like black lace!

And now I'd like to share with you more of Nigel's talents.  It's nice to be able to show off the multitude of things he's built over the years.  I tried to convince him he was an artist too, but he just laughed it off, looked at me as if to say, "You're nuts!"  then went on about his merry business.  Oh well, I know he is and I'm very fortunate to have him.  See what you think!

One of my favorite places to be, especially in the spring and autumn, or late at night any other time of the year, when the sun's gone down and I can see the moon reflected up above the rooftop.  I've loved to swing ever since I was a little girl.  And I like to swing high too!  I have a lovely memory of my father and grandfather, both sitting on either side of our metal swing set when I was about eight years old.  I sat on one of the swing seats in the middle and went as high as I could go while the "men in my life" weighted down the swing to keep it from tipping over.  Even so, every now and then, the metal legs would give a little jump.   Of course my mom would have been furious had she seen what I was doing, but I'm happy to say we stayed out of trouble that day!!  And here I am, some 40+ years later, still loving to swing high!  This time, Nigel set the legs into concrete for me!  I come out here when I'm happy or sad, content or troubled.  Somehow swinging just seems to help me get my perspective back if all isn't right with the world.  Another memory I have is of my grandmother the spring before she died in 1998.  We were sitting in her swing on her back porch, catching the cool breeze of an afternoon and talking idly about whatever came to mind.  It was a lovely peaceful time and I'll cherish it always.  May God Bless, Jan

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nigel's Koi Pond

Took these photos of Nigel's Koi pond the other day because it was looking so beautiful!  He's done such a wonderful job on it and it's so peaceful to sit and listen to the running water.   Unfortunately, we have some kind of "critter" that's been stealing and presumably eating the fish.  Since he put it in, we've had a visit from a raccoon, a heron and now we think we might have a wild goose (at least that's what it sounded like) but we haven't been able to spot it.  It knows it isn't supposed to be there so it keeps well hid. 

There are two very large Koi left from the original 12 Nigel purchased for this upper pond, but they've developed a very keen sense of survival and hide under the bridge whenever they sense anyone (or anything) nearby.  These are all babies from the original 12!

These are the "middle sized" Koi.  There are babies everywhere, but didn't show up well in the photos because they're so small.  There are probably about a hundred of them.  They reproduce like rabbits!

Nigel's and my favorite are the pink water lilies!  They're amazing, coming out early in the morning, then closing up and going underwater at night!

True beauty!

A bit dirty after a few large Koi were flopping water and algae around this one, but it was still too beautiful to ignore!  And they're perennials!  These are from last year!

Farmers Market, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Just a few photos from the Farmers Market in Murfreesboro, Tennessee!  Such wonderful fresh veggies, fruits, herbs, plants, pickles, dips and spreads, fresh beef (frozen due to health code) from grain fed cattle....even homemade pasta and sauce!  I also tried a watermelon salsa.  Sounds weird, but tasting is believing and it was DELICIOUS!!  But don't take my word for it!  Go to Murfreesboro and try some yourself!!  The Market is there every Saturday morning around the Town Square!  Here are some of the photos.  They're not the best because we had to use Sherry's phone, because yours truly forgot to bring the camera!  Great, huh?  Talk about frustration!  Anyway, here are the ones that survived.

What a delicious salad I could make with these veggies! YUM!!

The guy was picking up the melons from the back of the truck and tossing them to the lady, who was stacking them on the tables.  Try as I did, I couldn't catch a melon in mid-air.  But they were obviously well versed in this act!

I found most of the prices to be extremely reasonable!

Beautiful fresh flowers to go with the wonderful veggies! No preservatives here!

Beautiful plants of every sort, and you knew they were accustomed to the Southern heat so you didn't have to worry about them living once you got them home!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Driving Through Tennessee, Back Home to Alabama!

Lovely, old country road - peaceful and serene!  A lovely beginning to the drive back home to Alabama!

I'm always amazed to see houses and property like this just across the road from farm buildings and old barns!  A Tennessee specialty?

More peaceful scenery!  How did I take photos?  Well, I couldn't possibly focus without stopping and it was already about 5:30 p.m. and I wanted to get home.  Isabel had already called and asked if I'd come by and see her before going home.  And of course I couldn't resist that little plea in her voice!  So......I just held the camera up and kept shooting.  I naturally made quite a lot of BAD photos, but these turned out great!

I love these rock walls lining the interstate (I-65).  And in many areas throughout Murfreesboro and Franklin (where my brother Larry lives), you'll see rock fences bordering the various properties!  Beautiful!

More rock walls!  And I'm happy to say there was very little traffic!  It was just turning dusk and the drive home was a relaxing end to a hectic but very fun weekend!!

I promised Sherry I'd drive slower than my usual, so I kept Tiwanda Tundra (my beautiful big girl!) on cruise control!  Here I am - about to enter the state of Alabama!  But I have to admit, Tennessee is one of the most beautiful states in the entire union, if not THE prettiest!! 

And here's the exit for home!! Huntsville sits just north of Madison where I live.  They've both grown so much, especially in the past 20 years, that you never really know when you're in one or leaving the other!  Sherry and I live about 2 hours from each other.

See you soon! Jan

My Trip to Murfreesboro, Tennessee!!

As I mentioned in my last post, when Nigel was in Iowa, I went up to Mufreesboro, TN, to visit my dearest, very best friend ever - Sherry Craig.  Isn't she lovely?  We had an absolute blast!  We've known each other since we were 13 years old, in Jonesboro, Arkansas! That's only 37 years ago!!  Sherry is the sister I never had.  When we're together, it's like we never left - no matter how long we're apart.  And since we've both turned 50, we've been having more fun than ever!  We seem to energize each other; when I return home from a trip to Sherry's, I feel like I can tackle the world!  And she says I inspire her!  So you can imagine how much fun we have!

Long ago, we decided we would only visit places where you could NOT easily take children (because that's where we spend too much time anyway).  So we spent time (LOTS of it too!!) in the book stores; both Barnes & Noble and Books A Million this time!  And we went to Coldwater Creek!  LOVELY clothes!  And several trips to Starbucks!  I've discovered a green tea I actually enjoy!  It tastes great, either hot or cold, and has no caffeine!!  It's called Tazo Zen tea.  Don't get me wrong; I love my English tea (P.G. Tips), but it's very strong and I'm trying to cut down on caffeine, so this makes a nice substitute in the afternoons after work!  Among other things, it has lemon verbena and spearmint leaves in it!

When I get the photos from Sherry, I'll write about our trip to the local Farmer's Market, held every Saturday at the town square!  Lovely time!  And then there was my insane shopping spree at The Country Gourmet, a sweet little shop on the square that sells hand-made chocolates (oh darn!), lovely cards, some jewelry, and some of the sweetest holiday ornaments you've ever seen!  So.....Sherry - get those photos to me quick!

Love and Blessings to All, Jan

Fresh Picked Corn From Iowa!!

Nigel spent several days in El Dora, Iowa, visiting Renee' and Doug Minteer - good friends of ours from our Army days!  The corn crop is beautiful this year and Nigel went a little overboard bringing some of it back to Alabama!  Mom is a trooper! She jumped right in and started shucking the next day!  What you see is only a small portion; there's quite a bit more in the kitchen to the right, and Nigel had already taken several bags over to our neighbors.  I took another 60 ears to work with me on Tuesday, which didn't last very long.  It's delicious!  So much better than the corn we get here in Alabama.  I even ate one whole cob raw!  Yummy!! Even better, Nigel managed to rest a little.  While he was there, I spent my weekend with my very, very best friend in the whole wide world - Sherry Craig!  But that's another post!  See you soon! Jan

Dundee in the Cat Bird Seat!

Dundee thought he'd be closer to the bird he was watching if he got up in a tree himself.  He hasn't quite figured out how to fly to the other tree that the bird is in though!  Poor Dundee - he tries so hard!