This Old House

I am a very private person by nature.  Privacy and blogging don’t necessarily go hand in hand.  Most bloggers have no problem posting photos, personal details.  Me?  I keep things shrouded in mystery to the point that often I don’t post because I may reveal more than I am comfortable with.  Or perhaps what I’ve got going on is so mundane to me that I don’t see how sharing it will much matter in the life of my readers.

My girl over at Tickled Red got me blogging.  She is much freer in her approach.  And I admire that even though I cannot emulate it myself.

As I revealed a few weeks back, we are in the process of selling our house.  It has been a home to us for more than a decade.  We’ve shed a lot of blood, sweat, and tears here.  It’s where my babies learned to walk.  One was born here.  But we’ve known in our hearts for some time that it is time to move on, that this home has served our purpose well and it is now time to serve another family.

I’ve prayed that the right family be brought to us.  That may sound strange for someone who just wants to sell their house.  But it is important to me that it be appreciated.  The house is old – built in 1947.  We had blinders on when we bought it.  It was a sad, neglected and lonely place when we moved in.  It had been foreclosed on twice, converted to a duplex and back again.  We were stupid and didn’t have any inspections.  To say we were caught off guard by all the work needed would be a gross understatement.   We were flat broke with a newborn and another on the way.  So we worked on it a little at the time and slowly it recovered.  Now it is a beautiful home in an incredibly serene setting. 

While I am a little weepy as I prepare to leave, I am quite happy with the family that is moving in.  We bought this home to raise a family.  They are buying to be closer to their children during the end of their lives.  I know that their grandchildren will run through the yard playing the same games our kids do.  I know that laughter and love will be here.  And that makes me happy.

I’m going out on a limb here.  Over the next month or so I’ll be posting some of my favorite things about this place.  This is venturing into the private territory for me.  I guess it’s a sort of therapy.  And a way to honor the place that has sheltered me for the past 12 years… a place that helped me grow and taught me patience.



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Bake Sale – be there, be full, be happy!

My girl over at Tickled Red rocks!  She volunteered to coordinate a bake sale in conjunction with the Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale.  Note that’s a NATIONAL bake sale.  Well how in the heck do you hold a nationwide bake sale?  No idea, I left that for her to figure out.  She deals with event organizing all the time.  I can barely coordinate daily collection of eggs from six hens. 

It’s 11:00 the night before and I’m just getting started.  I procrastinate.  It’s a problem but we can discuss it another day.  Thankfully she’s only counting on me for a little light baking and actually showing up at the venue.  She knows me too well.  Meanwhile she’s gone and baked a gazillion different treats – the gourmet cheesecake kind – and enlisted other good cooks to take up my slack.  

We’d love for you to stop by tomorrow.  You can find us bright and early at Wrightsville Beach in front of King Neptune Restaurant until about lunch time.  If you’re watching your weight and would rather make a donation you can do that here – Tarheel Girls –  (note that the venue info may not be correct at that website, as our location recently changed.)

Now I have to go preheat my oven.  And pick out something not-black to wear for tomorrow.

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Sorry it’s been a while.

Hi y’all.  I hope things are greening up nicely in your neck of the woods.   So sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Life has been crazy the last few weeks…in a mostly good way! 

It is absolutely beautiful here.  We’ve been working in our gardens – The Husband and big kids have had dominion over the vegetable garden.  Collards, cabbage, rutebega, radish, peas, turnip & potato.  I’ve been left to my flowers and herbs.  The little one just follows the dog, cats & chickens around.  She doesn’t like to get her hands dirty.

Our family has been on somewhat of a roller coaster over the past year.  Some of you have been along for the ride.  Well it’s still rolling but at least we’re at a little lull from the loopdy-loop parts.  With amusement rides, you never can tell exactly when the creepy operator will end your turn.  Sometimes they’ll fool you and slow down only to speed back up, maybe put you in reverse – or perhaps spin you faster to see if they can make you sick.  I’m hoping this particular attraction will soon have an abrupt and sudden stop.  Until then, I’ll continue to keep my seatbelt on and my hands inside the ride at all times.

And, for some BIG news…It looks like our plan of having a real life working homestead is getting into motion. We’ve had setbacks, shed a few tears, maybe thrown a hissy fit or two.  But overall we’ve maintained faith that the Divine has a plan for us and that our path will be revealed if we can just shut up and be patient.  I find both – shutting up and being patient – difficult.

Hope is often hard to maintain when results are not tangible inside our self-imposed timeframe.  Sometimes I prop up The Husband.  Sometimes he has to jolt me back from the brink of insanity.  But we have each other and we have a goal.  Fortunately it is a common goal and our kids are on board too!  We want to move.  We want more land.  We want to grow our own food, milk goats, harvest our own meat, make soap & cheese.  Yeah, we’re those kind of people.  The weird brown bread sandwich, granola eating freakos.  It takes all kinds, right?

My daddy says he didn’t raise me to be that way.  Which is true.  He didn’t.  The Husband wasn’t raised that way either.  It is definitely a lifestyle that we’ve chosen.  But it works for us and we are thrilled at the prospect that the next chapter is beginning.

I’ve got butterflies.  And that little feeling you’d get as a kid with a fresh box of crayons and brand new tablet of paper.  Like anything is possible if you just believe hard enough.  Remember – Faith can move mountains.  But turning your back on the will of the Divine will eventually put you in the belly of a whale.  And that is a stinky place.

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My Mid-March Tradition

I’ve planned this day since the beginning of January.  I spent hours scouring the internet for traditional Irish recipes – Determined that we would have an authentic, homemade corned beef dinner.  One that I corned myself.  A carefully selected brisket and lovingly prepared brine.  Waiting weeks for the process to perfect.  Soda bread, root vegetables and cabbage.
And in my own long-established tradition, as I prepare our evening meal – the tempting aromas wafting from the heart of our home – I take much comfort in the fact that I never actually shared this dream with anyone else.  Because we’re having chili.
Keep smiling and have a fun day!

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What I’ve been up to…

Pretty much nothing.  I’m kind of in a rut.  I’ve been pondering pioneer life while doing all sorts of non-pioneer things.  Like using electricity.  And silently hurling obscenities at my once wonderful bread machine.  Atrocious, un-ladylike, made-up words because it won’t knead properly.  I’ve also been thumbing my nose at state regulations while practicing cosmetology without a license – TWICE in one week!  Once doing my baby sister’s (the hair dresser) roots (let me just say it was quite gratifying to see how much more gray she has).  Later plucking my mama’s chin.  That left me a little horrified and praying I didn’t get the chin hair gene.  I’m an excellent chin-plucker when given the proper tools.  However those that know me personally are scoffing aloud as I am in no way qualified to do hair.  I don’t even get my own hair “done”.  And I’ve had my hair tinted only once in my life.  It did not turn out well.  Not well at all. 
I’ll spare the full story as The Husband would just veto its publication.  I’ll just give you the basic ingredients and let you fill in the blanks.
1. A really cute college-aged me.
2. A bottle of hair color.
3. The Husband (pre-husband status but fully licensed to apply said hair color).
4. Lots of smooching.
5. A little less attention to the critical passage of time. 
I sent him purple daisies the following day.  The card read: 
Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Do this to my hair again
And your eye will be too.
Sadly I had bangs at the time and they were most affected.  Which was a mixed blessing – it didn’t take too terribly long to grow out but the shocking purple hue was front and center for all to see. 
Now I do nothing to my hair, and I mean NOT A THING.  Despite having four immediate relatives that are licensed to cut hair all the live long day, I only go in about once a quarter.  And only if the moon is growing.  I’m just one of those long-haired weirdo hippie freaks.  I don’t know why.  It’s just me.  I know it bugs three of them.  But the fourth one loves me just the way I am.  So it’s all good.

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Chatty Me Time

Saturday I woke with a mission. A mission to act like a normal, average, everyday person.  Not be the freak I am that is compelled to share my homebirth story with complete strangers. Not speak of politics or religion. Not talk too much.

I woke relatively early.  Showered, filed my nails, put on mascara.  Things were starting off OK.  I looked in the closet and pondered what I’d wear.  Figuring it would be black because 99% of my wardrobe is, I made a mental note to add a little color soon.  I worried the girl was gonna think me a witch.  And a pudgy one too as I couldn’t locate my spanx.  Then I added a little more mascara, my secret ego booster.  I was nervous. 

See I was going on a blind date of sorts.  My very good friend met a fellow blogger online and invited me along on their introductory lunch date.  This was big.  Not only because I was meeting someone new whose impression of me was completely untainted by, well, me…but I also wouldn’t so much as have to think of a poopy diaper for a whole afternoon.

 I don’t get out a lot.  I don’t get much me time either.

 I had the time wrong and was blessed with an hour to kill before our lunch.  I hit up the Goodwill for a little shopping and didn’t even check out the kids department.  This day was all about me.  Sixteen dollars, a dress, a skirt, and a magenta jacket later, I headed to my destination.

I arrived a few minutes early and parked in a shady spot.  RED called and said she was running late.  She told me I should go on in.  “OK, ummm, No.  I don’t do the whole meeting new people on my own thing well – at all.”  Besides it was only five ‘til and I still needed to replace a missing button on my shirt.  Wouldn’t want to make a bad impression.

I finished the mending and decided to be brave and head in.  The whole time I’m channeling Stuart Smalley and telling myself “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough and doggone it people like you! Don’t talk too much and you’ll seem normal.” 

I met Kate out front.  We recognized each other because we’re both redheads.  That was easy.  Inwardly I was admiring her earrings and boldness for wearing bright colors.  But my mouth is all “Hey, so sorry that I’m a few minutes late.  I was in the parking lot sewing a button on my shirt sleeve.”  Dang, why do I do this?  Then I started to obsess about if I’d remembered deodorant or if something could be hanging out of my nose.

We went in and found a table.  RED breezed in 10 minutes later.  After I’ve already made the new girl question my sanity and her voluntary agreement to meet us.  And I just kept talking.  The waitress was getting annoyed that I couldn’t shut up long enough to decide what to order.  After her third visit I just asked for a chef salad. 

For the next 3 hours and 40 minutes I sent telepathic messages across to the table to RED.  “PLEASE, please for the love of all that is good and wholesome, go find me some Pepto-Moutho!”  RED was obviously not getting my vibes because she just kept bringing up bygones that caused me to chime in even more. 

The waitress quit refilling our tea sometime during hour number two.  We only took the hint and decided to move our little party to a nearby coffee shop after they flickered the overhead lights – as we approached the end of hour four.

When all was said and done I had spilled my guts about every minute detail about my life.  But I had an absolute ball.  It was a refreshing time with interesting grownups that were gracious enough to include me in their outing.  I hope that I didn’t scare Kate.  Her daddy told her to be careful because we might secretly be ax murderers.  I don’t even want to know what she reported back to him.

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Get the door. It’s Domino’s?

I’ve got to be up front with you.  There’s something I need to get off my chest.  An inner voice says some things should just stay in the closet.  Then another chimes in that I should spill it.  Afterall, you deserve to know what a freak I am was.  Over the next few weeks I’m going to work on lightening the karmic load by making amends.  Not to my loved ones that are most deserving.  That would be too easy.  Nope, this shedding of guilt is strictly targeted at a few strangers that I encountered over the years.    You’ve probably already read about the skinny dipping incident.  Next up is Domino’s Pizza. 

Now let’s think back to a simpler time.  A time before Al Gore gave us the internet.  Before cell phones and caller ID.  Before the advent of Prozac and stalker laws.  You remember, the glorious days of big hair and tight rolled, acid-washed jeans.  Back then I ran around with a couple of girls that we’ll call Michelle & Priscilla.  We’ve known each other since kindergarten, we grew up together, went to school together, and pretty much did everything together.  But the thread that bound us most tightly was Neurotic Girlfriend Syndrome.  Today the affliction can be controlled with medication.  But back then you just had to tough it out. 

The cause remains a mystery but it is commonly believed that the condition is exacerbated by junk food, lack of sleep, and jilted-girlfriend songs. And the condition could easily escalate to a dreaded case of Psycho-Ex-Girlfriend-From-Hell Disorder.  We had Alanis Morissette egging us on.  By the grace of God, the world had not yet been blessed with Carrie Underwood.  A recording of “Before He Cheats” would have sent us completely over the edge.  After her passionate tirade, a mere whiff of Polo could have  pushed any of us into taking a Louisville Slugger to the front end of a Camero.  And I was there when a certain someone carved her own name into an ex’s kitchen cabinet.  But I’m rambling now…let’s get back to it. 

We were in our mid-to-late teens.  Old enough to drive and with way too much time on our hands.  We either had boyfriends or boys that we assumed to be our boyfriends.  Occasionally those boys may leave a scrap of paper lying about.  The kind with 7 digits and no name.  Together the girlfriends would huddle.  “Does this look like a girl’s handwriting?”  “What do you think?”  “Maybe it’s just a guy he works with?”  Of course your teenaged best friend is never going to point you in the direction of reason.  She is positive that your man is two-timing!  She has not a shred of proof.  Only her super psychic best friend powers.  But she’s a real friend and will make it her life’s mission to help you track down the floozy and get to the bottom of this scandal! 

I think the idea first resonated with Michelle.  Maybe she saw it in Lifetime Network movie of the week.  It was golden and we loved her for it.  A clever little accessory for our investigative handbag.  Domino’s Detective Identification Service – find a number and order a pizza.  Seriously.  It’s so easy it boggles the mind.  You see before modern technology killed it for us psycho-ex-girlfriends-to-be, a quick call to Domino’s went a little something like this… 

Them:  “Domino’s Pizza.  Can I help you?” 

Us:  “Why yes, My number is 555-6666 and I’d like a large pizza with extra cheese.” 

Them:  “Yes mam, Mrs. Hungry Lady.  We’ll get that right over to 123 Happy Family Lane.” 

Us:  “Thanks so much!  See you in thirty.  Can’t wait!” 

Brilliant!  We had a name & address.  And you can trust that in 30 minutes or less somebody else had a piping hot pizza at their doorstep with an anxious driver ready to get paid.  What’s that?  Were we successful?  Well no, I don’t recall ever actually catching anyone two-timing.  But we dang sure tried.  And it kept us busy and out of trouble.  You know the old saying about idle time being the devil’s workshop.  

Time marched on and technology advanced.  To put it plainly, Caller ID ruined it for us.  But we have far superior stalking tools now.  Thank you, Al Gore!  And I’m sorry, Mr. Domino’s man.  I didn’t really mean to cause you so much grief.  I’m sorry we used you so carelessly.  For failing to recognize your need to feel appreciated for your invaluable service of fresh pizza in 30 minutes or less.  As a grownup and the designated cook at our house, I now understand just what a feat that is. 

So there, I feel a little better already.  And a little hungry too.  My childhood peeps and I still get together for a good pizza now and again.  This recipe is my adaptation of a Pampered Chef appetizer.  It is NOT a 30 minute or less meal.  So plan in advance as it is vitally important that you THAW & drain that spinach.  (So very sorry about that, Shari!)  

Here’s what you’ll need and do: 

prepared pizza crust 

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped 

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese (I like tomato basil, but what evs)
1 garlic clove, minced

1 small to medium red onion, sliced very thin
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Combine mayonnaise & sour cream in a large bowl.  Drain spinach and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.  Drain & chop your artichokes and water chestnuts.  Add spinach, artichokes, water chestnuts, feta cheese and garlic mix well.

Rub about 1 tablespoon olive oil on your pizza crust.  Spread spinach mixture evenly.  Top with onion slices.  Sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake as your packaged crust directs.  (10-12 minutes or until heated through) 


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