Sunday, July 10, 2022

Birthdays, Working Outdoors, and Some Stitching


Let's begin with the 4th of July!  Hope you had a nice one.  : )

For years, around here, we treat my birthday (the 3rd of July) as the 4th.  It's when everyone can get together in fairness to other responsibilities with other families.  At first when we did this, I have to admit I didn't like being left by ourselves for the 4th with nothing to do, but I have grown to really like it.  It's such a calm day.........sleeping in, being a bit lazy, napping, know.  This year it was a stay inside kind of day because of the heat and humidity.  It wasn't until late afternoon when I got a little stir-crazy that I ventured outdoors because I remembered a birthday gift that I just received from our son and his wife.  A mister.  I brought some plants over to our table to work on (dead-head, prune, etc.) brought the mister out (a device that you put on the hose), turned it on and it worked!  I stood there working with this lovely, cool, mist all around me.  It was very pleasant and what a thoughtful gift - something I know I would have never bought for myself.

We had the typical summer food for the birthday/4th gathering - sloppy joes, sliced tomatoes, chips, pickles, vegies with dip, pasta salad, watermelon, and assorted beverages.  Since we just had another  birthday on June 28th (our son) we had traditional cake for his dessert so I wanted to do something different.  I took a photo of it, but do you think I can find it?  Anyway.......I love sweet rolls so I got the idea of stacking assorted sweet rolls on top of each other to form a tower (bigger at the base and then tapering up) and then stuck candles throughout it.  It looked fun and was different.

For our son's birthday, I brought out the fondue pots.  This is something we try to do at least once a year during summer.  Everything can be done the day before so when party day comes, just pull everything out, set it all on the table, and everyone helps themselves.  We had steak and chicken and the recipes are as follows (in case you want to give it a try):

For the beef you'll need steak (beef filet, sirloin, or round) and the amount is usually 1/2 lb. per person if you're having other meat to go with it.  I know that the price of beef is really high right now but if you plan ahead and maybe buy a little at a time it would be okay.  There is a reason we only do it once a year!!!  The fat and sinews should be removed from the meat and cut into 3/4-inch cubes, put into a 9 x 13 pan and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with course ground pepper (I usually do the lemon pepper), salt, and marjoram and then top with onion slices.  Cover and marinate for 12 to 24 hours.  On the day of the party, drain the meat and arrange on a large board or individual bowls.

For the chicken you'll need chicken breasts (again you'll need to determine the amount) that need to be cut into cubes again.  In a marinating bag, add 2 chopped onions, 1 mashed garlic clove, 5 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 2 Tbsp. oil of choice, freshly ground pepper, and 1 Tbsp. cornstarch.  Add the chicken and marinate overnight.  On the day of the party, drain the chicken well and put meat into bowls separate from the red meat.

Fill fondue pots with vegetable oil (the pots usually have a maximum fill line), heat up, skewer the meats at the table, and enjoy!!!!!  Of course, you can choose to have only one meat, but it is a nice change to have both. **Also......I suggest you do this outdoors.  In the past, we've tried it in the house, but the smell does linger for days and the spattering of the oil while cooking gets all over everything!

What's really fun about this is creating a Charcuterie board (I also took a photo of this and it's no where to be found!).  But I had bowls of pickles and olives, a plate of sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, Mozzarella cheese slices, baguette bread slices, and then fresh berries sprinkled around.

And then since it's summer, we had watermelon chunks and assorted beverages.  With this kind of meal it makes you linger and since everything is done, the host/hostess doesn't have to cook!  Everyone is in charge of how long they want to cook the red meat -some like it rare, others medium, or like me where you start out with 3/4-inch cubes and when you take it out of the oil, it's half that size! (I like mine well done) LOL

So.....I wanted to share that idea with you.  There is a lot of summer left and it's a great memory maker.

I know the price of groceries is stupid crazy right now, but I truly believe that doing things like this - making little splurges like this - is important.  At this time, we need to do all we can to hold on to some kind of "normal" - things that make us feel connected and it's important to laugh and have fun and reminisce.  So, my hope is that you will find time to celebrate!!  : )

One thing that I've been trying to do more of this summer is work in the yard.  I'm NOT a hot weather person and then when it's combined with humidity well......nope.  But I'm finding that if I can get out early in the morning hours that works best for me.  So, I've been pulling weeds (wouldn't it be nice if all our produce and flowers grew as nicely as those weeds?!), cleaning areas up and putting new mulch down, cutting off old spent blooms and dead-heading flowers to bring on new blooms, buying just a few more perennials for a "work-in-progress" side of the house, and just keeping up with the watering.  Everyone's lawn looks pretty sad right now (including ours) so I'm just concentrating on the plants and trees.  Here are few photos (yeah! at least I found these!) that I've been taking while I'm out and about:

this is the area that desperately needed cleaning up - it was overgrown with weeds and needed some fill-in plants along with new mulch.

another view on the other side

this is my "works-in-progress" side of the house - it gets a lot of sun so I purchased a few sedums and a coneflower - every year I hope to add a little something more and extend it out a bit.  I took the photo at a sunny peak so everything looks pretty washed out.

this is why I have chicken wire around almost everything!  He looks pretty comfy and unafraid doesn't he?

yep - I'd say he looks like he doesn't have anything to worry about.

I have two of these wagons that I just sprinkle a lot of seed in - so far I see Bachelor's Buttons and Zinnias.

this is the other one by our back door.

the Pansies don't like this heat, but they're hanging in there!

whereas, the Lavender LOVES the heat!

so far, we've had one meal with fresh green beans (so good!) and there are more to be picked.

our potato plants in the buckets - it looks like it will be a success but we'll see - I hope it works out.

I think I had mentioned before that our driveway has a tiny, hot, space where there is nothing but rocks and without something growing there it just looks so stark so I planted sedums along with Sweet Alyssum.

a sedum that a neighbor shared with me - so appreciative of that!

the Alyssum just softens the area and smells wonderful.  This driveway area is one of the areas that was in desperate need of weeding - with that done, everything just stands out and looks nice and tidy.

When I do go back in the house, of course there are the dailies that need to be done - laundry, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning up, etc. - but when I feel that I have my work done for the day, I've been working on my cross stitching.  What a joy this craft/hobby has been.

I keep watching "FlossTubes" while working and stitching so I get ideas.  There are two ideas that I've put into practice:

*The first idea is to work on more than one stitchy project at a time.  I really thought that I was going to be the type of person to stitch on only thing at a time.  When I begin a project, I like to work on it until I'm finished and then move on to something else.  But I see all these women who show one project after another!  I can't go that crazy, but I have decided to try at least a few.  What I've heard from several women is that they schedule their stitching - for example on every 4th of the month, they bring out a patriotic stitch (because of the 4th of July) - here is mine so far:

I have a lot to do on this one but I won't pull this out until August 4th, and then September 4th, and so on..........
To give credit where credit is due (and I mentioned this before, but I want to be sure to mention it again) this is a freebie pattern from Melissa at Pinker n' Punkin and it's called "Little Liberty Manor".  If you go to her blog she posts LOTS of freebie patterns to copy and work from and they are ALL so very cute.  This, and the other two I show are all smalls meaning they measure about 5 inches in diameter which are perfect for little frames or making cute little pillows out of.  I am stitching this on 14 count Aida in Oatmeal by Zweigart which I got at Hobby Lobby and I'm using all the called for DMC threads.

And then since it's "Christmas in July" I'm stitching this (again, from Melissa):

it's a start to "Candy Cane Cottage" and I'm really liking how it's turning out - it'll be so fun to have this ready to put up at Christmas.  Again, I'm stitching it on 14-count Aida in Oat (not Oatmeal like above) and I'm using the called for DMC floss.

But I also wanted to work on a summer stitch as well (since it IS summer):

I have a lot to do yet on this too, but I think it's so cute with the little bee skep on top of the house!  (Another design by Melissa)  and it's called "Aunt Bea's Summer House" - I'm stitching it on 14-count Aida (my favorite count, but's the only count I've worked on so far! LOL) and the color is Oat again using the called for DMC thread.  So I pull this out on hot, summery days (which seem to be a lot lately).

Lastly, some ladies have a "Sunday stitch" they work on and since I LOVE samplers I thought that on Sundays I would bring out my own design and keep working on it:

I have a lot to do on this, but I'm getting there!!!  I filled in some of the wife's motifs under where she is standing and now I'm starting on the husband's motifs under him and then I have to fill in the areas above them both.  I'm liking the way it's turning out and can't wait to get it into a frame - my first framed cross stitch piece!  : )

So, I can see why these cross-stich ladies have several projects going on at one time.  It does bring some change into the schedule so that you don't burn out on any one thing.  I'm, surprisingly, liking it!

*The other idea I learned about was to "kit" projects up ahead of time so you don't waste time in trying to find everything you need.  You just put everything (fabric, thread, needle, scissors, pattern) into a bag and there you go!

it just feels so organized and if you go anywhere that you think you might be able to work on it, just grab it and go.  EVERYONE seems to have beautiful, fancy, project bags that they put there projects in but I'm cheap......I just use a Ziploc gallon size bag.  LOL  Works for me!

As with everything in these days we live in where people aren't very discerning and you want to watch a "FlossTube" for yourself, just know that you'll have to be discerning yourself!  There are only a few that I watch on a regular basis knowing that I won't have to hear swear words.  I'm constantly surprised with some women and what comes out of their mouths.  The other thing that I'm disappointed in is that a lot of women are REALLY into Halloween stitching.  The amount of "witch" stitching surprises me and I wish they knew that it isn't "cute" no matter how much they try to "cute" it up.  I know a lot of people would just roll their eyes or tell me to "lighten up" but witchcraft is real and it's NOT cute!

Those are the only two things I wanted to give you a heads-up on.  Maybe those two things wouldn't discourage you but I really want to be as picky as I can when I watch or listen to someone.  The one thing I feel while watching is a little jealousy - they all seem to have "stitchy friends" - people they can get together with and have that fun, common bond between them.  Oh, well.  I still enjoy it and will continue on!! : )

I think that's about it for today.  It's another hot day so I'm comfortably at the dining room table waiting for our Sunday tradition of popcorn and ice cream in the evening.  The week ahead looks like more of the same for us - nothing planned (which I like) so I will be glad to just be home and do what needs to be done.  

I hope that each and every one of you are doing well and that you will enjoy the upcoming week and enjoy the work you have to do.  Thank you SO much for stopping by and taking the time to read this post.  I certainly appreciate it.  God bless and be sure to leave a comment!!

I'll leave you with a couple more photos:

doesn't this look like we're somewhere in the Mediterranean?  All the white buildings and a beautiful sunset?  This was before the fireworks on the 3rd.  We have a "secret" place to go for fireworks that we found a few years ago - the whole place to ourselves - so we tailgate with snacks and sit and wait for the show to begin.

birthday roses : )

Thank you!!!