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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Food Scents

Image may contain: food

This is a poem from Facebook that I wrote and posted a couple years ago.  The picture of banana bread is more recent.

Scentsational Sunday!

Apple cinnamon oatmeal and toast scented the morning air,
French onion soup made at lunch-time made everyone feel quite fair,
Banana bread in the afternoon made the whole house smell so good,
The aroma of meatloaf and mashed potatoes promised yummy dinner food,
The day ended with homemade rice pudding scenting the evening time,
I'd have to say this scentsational day was gastronomically divine!

I think there's nothing better than a house full of the scent of good food.  It's part of the reason we love the holidays so much.  The smell of our favorite foods cooking brings back warm memories of family or events that lie dormant until awakened by the heavenly mingling of sweet and savory delights we look forward to enjoying. The feelings evoked by foods cannot be denied. Some, such as those described in the poem above, are the ultimate in comforting.  Cinnamon, onions, baked goods, and meatloaf bring me back to my childhood when the house would be warm in winter and smell of wonderful homemade meals and snacks.  They also bring me the satisfying knowledge that I am capable of filling my own home with the same comforts for my family.  Letting them know that they are loved and cared for.  I can't imagine giving them any greater gift than that.

The rich aroma of coffee brewing brings back so many memories for me.  First there are the memories from childhood and young adulthood when I lay in my bed just off the kitchen, my father getting ready for work to the sound of the percolator, toaster, and eggs cracking for his breakfast.  His gentle voice talking to the dog as they shared bits of toast dipped in coffee from a saucer.  Later in life, the scent of coffee figured in a big way as I worked in a donut shop.  The air was always filled with the smells of coffee brewing and the sweet odor of donuts.  My coat, in winter, always smelled of coffee.  As I grew into adulthood, the smell of coffee in the morning shared over breakfast with my husband on weekends was a staple, and we still share that weekend ritual although now we are more likely to be drinking from take out cups and watching the weekend morning news program in the living room. In the afternoon my daily cup of coffee is a nice pick me up.  No matter what else is going on, if I catch a whiff of  coffee I am almost always calmed and in a better mood.
Today was so warm that I headed out to the back deck with a cup of coffee and a book.  Such a treat in February!

The smell of someone grilling meat outside is another memory inducing scent.  Mostly it happens on weekends, but sometimes on a week night especially in summer, the air is filled with that mouthwatering tang of barbecue.  Memories come flooding in of trips to state parks and roadside grills, backyard parties, lazy weekends, and hamburgers, hot dogs, and toasted marshmallows.  Gas grills are nice for convenience, but give me the old fashioned charcoal and time spent outside with a squirt bottle of water to put down the flames so as not to burn the food as it cooks.  Those are some of the nicest times to remember.

I love the smell of tea; any kind of tea.  English Breakfast is my favorite on week day mornings, and peppermint my favorite before bed.  I just love the scent of a freshly opened box of tea!  Sometimes when I need a little post dinner pick-me-up to get me through kitchen clean up and lunch packing duties I brew a cup of Constant Comment which is an aromatic blend of black tea, orange and spice.  It is a heavenly perfume that I enjoy when I open the little foil packet to place it in my cup to await the magic that happens when boiling water is poured over the teabag. When I was growing up my mother was always a tea drinker and if one of us was sick she brewed us a cup of tea with lots of sugar in it, which was soothing and comforting.  Some of my fondest memories as an adult with my mother involve a cup of hot tea after dinner enjoyed over a game of Scrabble or Rummy at the dining room table.  Whether as a wake up call or a soothing end of the day treat, for me tea is a balm to be enjoyed sip by sip.

                                                   My top three favorite teas that I always keep on hand.

So those are some of the scents that we enjoy at our house.  It makes for such a pleasant, comfortable atmosphere enjoyed by us and anyone who visits.  I hope that your home is filled with delicious aromas every day.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Rhymes and Thoughts on Winter

TGIF Haiku

I like Friday best

This week seemed extremely long

A chance for down time


Well at the end of the workweek we all look forward to Friday and some time to relax, or at least a change from the Monday to Friday routine.  The busier I am one weekend, the more I look forward to Friday the next week.  I guess when I’m doing things, even fun things, on the weekend my body and brain don’t get to relax as much as I need them to.


Saturday's a lovely one,

The squirrelly workweek

Is all done.


This one is short and sweet, and to the point.  I do love Saturday mornings, even on busy weekends because I generally get up early any way so I can have a few minutes to myself.  I can reflect on the week just passed and plan out how I want my day to go (even if I plan way too much!).  It feels like such a hopeful day to me.  Whether or not it turns out to be as productive as I planned, it’s still nice to have the time to fill.


Ok, ok, the weather's bad,

It's windy, cold and rainy,

It's not the first storm we've had,

So let's not be so complain-y!


Really, we do tend to go on and on about the weather.  At this point in time, politics being what they are at the moment and everyone upset about something, I guess the weather is one thing we can all talk about without too much argument---although I have seen times when people got really angry at each other because one person hates cold weather, and one hates hot weather.  I guess if you’re looking to fight, any subject will do.


This is the Seward house at our town park. The town is thinking about renovating it to use as a small banquet hall for our recreation sports teams to use for their awards dinners. I just like stone buildings!

The sky is gray, the trees are bare,

The birds are flitting from here to there,

There's random snowflakes floating 'round,

They're not sticking on the ground,

The pine trees are swaying in the breeze,

Which makes cheeks red and noses freeze.


February’s gray skies and barren landscape are somewhat brightened up for me when there are birds around.  You can’t go wrong with appreciating Mother Nature when all else fails.  Snow flurries, a little breeze, cold air, and swaying pines really make for a lovely view whether you’re looking out the window or out and about getting a frozen nose and rosy cheeks.


Monday and caffeine

Go together

Like bulky coats

And Winter's weather


This is another short and sweet verse.  Mondays are hard!  Getting back into the workweek routine needs a little help.  Whether you get your caffeine from coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cola or an energy drink, most of us use it to get going Monday morning and to keep going through the afternoon energy slump.  Winter cold demands a warm coat, and they feel so bulky when you put them on and try to get into and out of the car.  They just go together.


They dragged the ground hog from his bed

He didn't look too happy

They asked him 'bout the winter's length

(I'd have been mad and snappy)

With beady eyes he looked around

And they said he saw his shadow

Which means six more weeks of winter

Ok then! Time to go.


Groundhog Day!  Oh boy, this year I think we were looking forward to the nonsense associated with the day more than other years.  It was a nice diversion to have a rodent predicting when winter will end.  And of course it wasn’t without controversy!  The Pennsylvania groundhog, Punxatawny Phil, and the Long Island one, Chuck didn’t agree about the nearness of springtime.  No surprise since they are in two different states and hundreds of miles away from each other.  Oh well, it was a good diversion from the usual crap on the news.


The workweek ends

And I am spent

Tonight my sofa's

Heaven sent.


And another Friday came, I was tired, and the sofa felt oh so comfy!  My energy was gone, and it was time to recharge.  I am always so thankful for my nice couch corner with its pillows and blanket waiting for me like old friends.  I tried to read a book, but darned if I didn’t keep falling asleep on it.  Geez! How could I be so tired?  Oh well, I guess that’s what comes of being busy all week.


Saturday starts cold and bright,

The sun is very nice,

It makes me think of summer days,

When I drink my coffee iced.


Sometimes the sun in winter is so bright, with a bright blue sky with white puffy clouds and it looks like it would be warm outside.  That’s when I start daydreaming about summer days spent sipping iced coffee in the afternoon while relaxing outside on the deck reading a book or just watching the leaves on the trees fluttering in a light breeze while squirrels frolic in the bushes and jump tree branch to tree branch.  Those thoughts are a nice respite from the chill of February days.  It’s at this point that the days are noticeably longer and the sun, if you’re in your car, actually feels warm.  Surely those lazy iced coffee sipping afternoons cannot be too far away!
A view of the trees and summer sky from my favorite seat on the deck.

Let your mind wander a bit, dear readers, it will help you feel more hopeful to think of some happy days ahead.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Little Things

Up With People pin.

People always say it’s the little things that count.  I think that’s true.  A pleasant greeting, a smile, or offering a mint when someone is coughing are all things that make daily life more pleasant.  A small gesture or kind word can keep you going through your day.  I know someone who recently was surprised with a gift of candy and some kind words from a coworker.  It made her day, and validated that she is doing a good job.  These things say to the other person, “you are valued”, and “you are appreciated”.  We all like the feeling of being noticed for our contributions to the smooth running of the workplace and home.  We go through our days trying our best to accomplish what needs to be done, while getting along with others and trying to help each other as we can.  Surprise acknowledgements of our efforts go a long way toward keeping everyone moving in a positive direction and working together.  Sometimes when we are getting frustrated with a task, it’s nice if someone asks if we need help with it.  Even if we don’t need help, when someone offers to assist us it’s as if they are saying, “I see your struggles, we’re all in this together”, and it may be just the thing we need to help us refocus and finish satisfactorily.  Of course, there are times when we get more annoyed by the offer of help because it feels like an interruption or a criticism; as if we are not capable of doing our job.  I think those are feelings that we read into other people’s words and not what was behind the offer of assistance, which then leads us to be out of sorts and ungracious.  We need to remind ourselves that an offer of a helping hand is not an indication that we are failing, it is simply another person’s desire to support us in that moment.  I am one of those folks who sometimes feels insulted by the offer of help, and I’m trying to remind myself that someone holding out a hand to help is a good thing, a sign of respect and care.  Responding to that offer with a smile and either grateful acceptance or gracious refusal is something I’m trying to remember.  It doesn’t mean I’m inadequate, it means that maybe I have too many tasks for one person that day and allowing another to do part of them is a good thing.  Then when things calm down I can return the favor, or do a little thing such as bring her a cup of coffee.  After all, it’s the little things that count.

Monday, January 9, 2017

January Days

I'm not sure what day this is,
Am I the only one?
The only thing I know for sure is
A new year has begun.

What is open? What is closed?
It is quite confusing
If I remain confused like this
At least I'll be amusing.
Last week was a short workweek, but those are the ones I find that I never seem to know what day it is.  Throw in a holiday on a Sunday and then try to figure out what businesses are observing the holiday on Monday, and which ones only closed on the actual holiday if at all, and it gets confusing if you're used to running on auto pilot.  I run pretty much on auto pilot, at least as far as the day of the week is concerned.

Dreary January days
Have us dreaming of the summer
Then we see they forecast
More cold and wind
Geez! What a bummer!
Well really, even though the days are getting slightly longer it seems that there are more cloudy days than sunny, and frequent forecasts for some type of frozen precipitation, freezing temperatures and wind.  When it's below freezing in temperature even just a light breeze makes it so much worse.  How much we miss those warm sunny days of summer when we are bundled up against the cold and expecting icy and snowy conditions!

January settles in with cold and snowy threats,
Those days when we complained of heat last summer we regret,
We don coats, hats, scarves and gloves and go about our lives,
Feeling sluggish as the worker bees hibernating in their hives.
Again, we were whiners last summer about the heat and humidity; right about now we would welcome that heat with open arms.  Oh to be relaxing in the shade of a big tree with a nice cold glass of iced tea and a good book right now!  I would miss the seasons if I moved somewhere that it was always hot, but the piercing cold and threat of bad weather do have me longing for that climate sometimes.  Being bundled up in winter wear loses its allure after a few weeks and coats, gloves, and boots make it tough to move freely; and I don't know about you but the lack of sunlight makes me tired.  Some days, in spite of lots of coffee or tea, I just don't feel fully awake.  This is a long month and it has settled in to a cold, gloomy, set of weeks.  The bright spot is that somewhere toward the end of the month, maybe after the 20th, the days seems noticeably longer and things start to look up a bit.

I hope you find something that comforts you and warms you during these cold, gloomy, sleepy days.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Farewell 2016! Welcome 2017!

The Christmas rush is over and I can't say that I'm sad about that because as much as I like Christmas and all that goes with it, things tend to get a bit stressful.  We hosted Christmas Day, as usual, which I love doing but somehow I didn't get as much done ahead as I had planned.  So my brothers and their families arrived and I was still in the kitchen trying to get those darned mushrooms stuffed and into the oven.  The dining room was not decorated nor were the tables for the buffet arranged, dishes weren't out, napkins still in their packages, glasses not out, but my daughter was trying her best to get things done when the first of them arrived, followed shortly by the rest.  Did I panic?  Nope, not me; I'm used to people arriving before things are ready because it happens nearly every day at work.  It actually worked out really well.  As soon as "Merry Christmas"es were exchanged and coats laid on our bed my sister in law and teen-aged nieces helped my daughter finish the dining room.  Among the laughter and chatter I heard as I worked diligently at the mushrooms, lights were strung, table cloth and placemats as well as chairs were arranged and any food that was ready was placed on the table.  The men, and Hillary, stayed in the living room talking amongst themselves until told that food was available.  Later, after everyone crowded into the living room for gift exchanging, we ladies gathered in chairs in the dining room to play games which included holiday charades.  The hours passed quickly and once coffee, tea, ice cream and cookies topped off the day everyone left and the house was quiet once again.  I love remembering these happy times and when my home is filled with the chatter and laughter of those I love.  It makes for a very Merry Christmas indeed.
This perplexing year is winding down
Our heads have not stopped shaking
As if we're experiencing a wild dream
From which we're having trouble waking.

So let's face it, 2016 was no picnic.  It wasn't horrible, well the end of the year, beginning with the end of August was not the best for our family, and my eldest brother especially had a terrible end of the year with the passing of his beloved wife Alison who battled a chronic, painful and debilitating illness for most of her adult life.  He and his two teenaged children are trying to find their balance and learning to live with the grief that the loss of the gentle woman brings. 
As far as the rest of the year, there were many ups and downs in our house, expensive things that had to either be fixed, replaced, or in the case of our beautiful  old maple tree, removed.  It was the year that I had to decide whether to look for a new job or find a way to enjoy it as I used to.  I chose to find a way to enjoy my time there by focusing on the good things about it and  accept but not dwell on the annoying aspects of it.  I think that probably I did that in regards to many things last year.  Well it's good to reflect on the past twelve months and realize that over all I had a pretty good, productive year.
Now here we are at 2017 and I can't believe that is what year it is!  I don't think when I was younger that I ever thought about this year, what it would be like, what age I would be, and what I would be doing.  I've always tended to live in the moment and not look too far ahead.  I also have not ever been one to make New Year's resolutions.  I'm not making any this year either, (why change now?), but I will set one goal for myself.  I want to be more courageous. Yes, I want to be brave in trying new things.  Not a lot of new things, and really improving current or past things is more like it; but it will feel like doing something new to me.  Some of that has to do with writing, and submitting my work, and some of it has to do with going places, and some is house related. 
I don't know what this new year will bring my way, challenges for sure, happy things, and most likely some unhappy ones as well.  Hopefully the good will be more plentiful than the bad for everyone.
Happy New Year!