Saturday, March 30, 2019

Spring planting and patio decorations

By Elizabeth Prata

The pollen is too heavy outside for me to stay out long. My eyes get dry and itchy, and my nose runs. The sun is bright and the breeze is gentle, and the temps are perfect. But I scuttled back inside anyway, the pollen kills me. Here is the beginning of my refreshing the patio area. Soon when the plants and flowers are put out for sale (when freeze possibility has passed, early April) I'll get a few and plant into my pots.

My idea is to replant my small succulents into the square white planter I got. (Not pictured.) Also to have a flowering plant join the chicken on the table. I'll replant the two large pots on the ground. I might get a hanging plant for near the door.

It's not a whole lot, but it's more than I've done the last couple of years. Springtime is so fun!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Sad trombone

By Elizabeth Prata

My spring break started tonight. I celebrated by driving up to The Special Store in search of a certain teacup I'd seen on their photographic previews. The folks at the store buy estate sales, and then sell the lots that they have acquired in their store. There are many unique and beautiful things, some charming finds, and just plain useful items, too. When they get a new lot in, they often post photos from the estate to whet our appetite, though unpacking the items once they've arrived at the store's storage locker may take a week or two.

I saw this china set and fell in love with the teacup. I trust my gut when it comes to spotting things, and this one in the picture looked like it would be a good find.

Label said simply pottery set mid-century china. Special Store pic

Turns out it was. Or would have been. I found the plates, sandwich dishes, and saucers. But the teacup was not among them. No teacup? Waaah. The ladies who decorated the store and the ladies who unpacked the items had no idea about the teacup. They had not seen it.

It is from the Rhythm line, pattern "Lotus Hai" (RY-135) by Homer Laughlin Company and it was produced from circa 1945-1955 (Mid-century). HLC were the folks who brought us Fiesta Ware.

I have a soft spot for Homer Loughlin stuff. My nascent interest was birthed as a tot ambling around my grandparents' house. They had a house in the city and a house at the beach. The beach house was light and airy, and in the huge dining room with long table, was a built-in hutch with glass front. I loved the dishes stacked inside, these were the Fiesta ware items full of bright and bold colors. My favorite was the rose color, introduced in 1951.

When I grew up and started visiting yard sales, when I spotted a few Fiesta dishes it all came rushing back. I started collecting the original ones from the 1930s colors and the 1950s.

I paused the collecting for around 20 years, but when I moved to Georgia and found The Special Store I began to collect again. I stuck to looking for teacups and teapots. I can't go TOO crazy because I live in a small space.

The Homer Laughlin Company's series Rhythm is described as, 'Large Leaves, Green & White Floral, platinum trim.' Hopefully mostly lead-free, lol.

I bought a sandwich plate. I said to the ladies at the store that if they come across the teacup, I want it. I have low hopes, though. It probably broke in the transfer or unpacking, or something.

I have a Homer Laughlin Eggshell Cavalier teapot. The teapot is a mid-century style pot in Spring Song pattern. It was actively sold between 1952-1959. SO mid-century! Mine is indicated by the stamp as a 1955 period. It's large, the largest pot I own. I really like mid-century modern styles, as long as the motifs aren't overdone with the outer space patterns of galaxies and stars and stuff.

So that is how it goes. Sometimes you score, sometimes you don't. I usually score when I'm not looking for something specific. When I am, even if it from a fairly sure thing from their own photos, someone has bought it before I get there, and I miss out. I like to just go and see what's there and strikes my fancy.

I bought a square white ceramic planter to put my succulents in. I also got a sage green ceramic chicken for a patio table decoration. The aforementioned sandwich plate. And a small birdhouse. Not a lot, barely over $10, but I'm looking forward to rearranging the patio and refreshing it with some plants and flowers. It's been a few years since I did that. Picture tomorrow. The chicken is real cute.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Don't be afraid of Ugli Fruit

By Elizabeth Prata

Our grocery store has a section where clerks place produce in a net bag and sell it for 99 cents. Normally, the fruit or vegetables are still good. For example, a tray of cherry tomatoes might have one lone moldy or squashed tomato in the entire tray, but they reduce it from $3.99 to .99. I buy it, throw out the inedible tomato, and eat the rest.

The other day there were two ugli fruits in the bag. I have never eaten them before. One advantage of my strictness with the net bag program is if there is anything on the reduced shelf even remotely palatable, I try it, even if I'm unfamiliar with the item. That way, I expand my palate and learn to eat new things. Otherwise I'd simply be eating scrambled eggs, blueberries, oatmeal, or soup every day and only those things.

I looked up on Youtube how to peel and eat an Ugli fruit. These fruits are in the family of grapefruit and tangerine. They are apparently juicy but not sour like the grapefruit, more sweet like the tangerine. Oh, ok, good to know. I never was able to get past looking at the ugly wrinkled thick skin to think of the fruit inside. Wikipedia explains this way
The Jamaican tangelo, also known by proprietary names ugli fruit, or uniq fruit, is a Jamaican form of tangelo, a citrus fruit that arose through the natural hybridization of a tangerine or orange with a grapefruit (or pomelo).
Above, two eggs getting ready to be poached and eyeing the ugli fruit for cutting

Very easy to peel. Cut off the pointy top and peel with hands
The woman describing the process in her video said that the membrane of the fruit is tough to chew and bitter, unlike a grapefruit, so I dispensed with it. Without testing it for myself I could see she was right, it was hard to pierce with a knife to open the membrane and extract the juicy fruit inside.

Break in half and tear off pith

I poked the individual segments and sliced the membrane open, extracting
the fruit inside. Half an ugli fruti was enough for me, one serving
So my breakfast Saturday was two poached eggs on gluten free toast, home fries, and half an ugli fruit. If you see an ugli fruit in the store, don't pass it up. It's juicy and tasty, and only requires a bit of work. Preparing an ugli fruit is a lot less work than an orange or a pineapple. The fruit should be without mold or dark spots, orange-ish in color at peak ripeness, or light green at just underripe. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Backyard Spring 2019

By Elizabeth Prata

For some reason this week seemed to chew me up and spit me out. I had no particular issues and nothing untoward happened. It was just a busy, hectic, long week that took a toll on my body and mind.

I did write two major discernment articles this week on my other blog, one about Lori Loughlin and the College Admissions Scandal, and one about Francis Chan who seems to be sliding toward apostasy before our eyes. Those kind of articles take a toll on me.

Nevertheless, this morning is sunny, crisp, bright, and filled with birdsong. A new day to admire creation and be thankful to our Lord for the ability to go forward in joy.

I took a walk around the yard this morning, to see the flowers and hear the birds. There are many mature trees in our yard and along the quiet one-way street. There are pastures too. The birds love to fly through the yard and over the fields, alighting from tree to tree. The grass in the yard is also filled with wild flowers. As I walk I'm stepping on a springy cushion of verdant grass dotted with purple violets. I feel like a queen, being able to tread on such richness.

Here are some pictures from my short amble around the grass and bushes.

I don't know what this flower is, but I am fascinated with its perching and blooming at the very end of a long twig from the bush it's attached to-

Irises I think. There is a bush at the front of the house facing the street-

The birds like to perch on the top of the mailbox post, and anywhere else on the post, lol.

I wish I'd noticed when I took the picture that the auto focus was on the branch of the tall tree and not on the moon. The moon was slightly pink, reflecting the rising sun's pink-

Fiery start to the day. The sky was ablaze-

Nothing says weekend to me, an educator, than buses at rest. This is of the school across the street-

The sun had just peeked over the horizon and made the trees across the pasture glow-

The violets in the grass. I love them-

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Friday, March 08, 2019

Cat on a roof and broken vacuum

By Elizabeth Prata

Who dat?

On a warmish and finally a non-rainy day, I pulled in to my driveway at end of day and parked the car in the garage. Breathing a sigh of relief because the day was done, I turned from sliding the garage door down and heard the cacophony of birds in the 100 foot magnolia. The leafy foliage on the tree is too dense for me to see the birds, but I sure heard them.

I decided to sit under the tree at the picnic table for a while with my camera to see what I could shoot. The birds turned out to be a "murder of crows". Not so sweet or gentle, but they were active and the leaves were rustling as though a 20 knot breeze was blowing through. The birds make the yard so dynamic. Always something to see or hear.

Soon I noticed I was not the only observer of all this activity. A neighborhood cat had climbed on the roof and was just dying to get to the birds, who were staying just out of claw's length.

I watched for a while longer, enjoying the warm sun and cool air. No humidity. No stress. A clean and inviting apartment awaiting. There's something restorative about being outside, listening to the birds, being surprised by a cat on a roof (it wasn't hot tin, though). Foiled, he eventually departed when the crows did. The cat slithered away like smoke and the crows flew over the pasture to the next set of trees in the neighbor's yard.

This afternoon, I did my grocery shopping and I'm settled down in comfy clothes right now. I bought some salmon trimmings, a stuffed crab, two salmon patties, and some tofu for a stir fry as my proteins/main meals. Also got a lot of salad stuff. My vacuum died and my new one ordered from Amazon is due tomorrow, so I have that to look forward to this weekend, sigh. Not so glamorous. With a broken vacuum I could at least NOT vacuum guilt free for a few days, right?

For now though, my pot of black tea in a Noritake Chatham china cup is all I need. Plus the snoozing cats. I feel an early bedtime coming on.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

With the car seat warmer AND the air conditioning on...decadent!

By Elizabeth Prata

I was crazy tired but went for some retail therapy Friday afternoon anyway. There was no rain for the moment and the skies were lightening and pretty. It's a gorgeous ride in this bucolic area, so I decided to go for it. It was a busy week at school that finished with Book Character Day. Phew.

I have a seat warmer in the driver's side seat of my car and it feels so good on my back after 8 hours of walking on concrete floors. It was 68 degrees and humid, so I turned on the air conditioner too. With the gospel radio channel on, I was starting to feel luxuriously relaxed.

The owner at the shop happened to be there and moving things around to make the back room (furniture) look like a showroom. I heard before that she was taking more of a hands-on interest because she loves the shop and wanted to spend more time here. She and a friend were hard at work making the place organized, clean, and attractive. The place is usually a jumble. Sadly she did not have any step ladders, the item I went there for. The two they have they use in the shop. She said she would email me if she found one at the estate sale they were buying at this weekend.

I bought a pad of vintage paper for school, it's 5X8 and lightly colored in pastel colors and some crayons. The kids will love drawing on these blank sheets. And a throw pillow for $3, it's very pretty. I have been watching Dr Lori Verderame, a famous and knowledgeable appraiser on her own site and on Youtube, learning a lot and enjoying her videos.

She said what my mother taught me these many years ago, you collect good furniture, precious metals including jewelry, and fine art. I love fine art. At the shop I saw a wonderful oil painting still life of flowers. Wowsers. Their prices at The Special Store on art are excellent. Last summer I bought an original watercolor that I personally believe is pretty old. I can tell it's special, whoever the painter was. I have been thinking to have Dr Lori do an online appraisal of it for $59, the next time I have a spare $59 lol.

Anyway, this one was by an artist named Campos. As I looked closer at the price tag, it was listed from the estate sale they bought it from for $325, and Owner Daphne said she'd sell it for $125. Aw, man, out of my league. Back to the pillow.

I had a nice chat with the clerk that's always there, Sherry. She offered me some tea and pound cake but alas, I had to go before my fast diminishing energy drained away completely. She gave me a couple of free range chicken eggs as a parting gift. That shop is part museum, part shop, and part safe zone to just relax. I love it there.

I drove the beautiful route to the next destination, the grand opening of Family Dollar. I watch Kathryn (a Christian lady, married with family) and her DIY thrift videos called Do It On A Dime. She always goes to the Dollar Tree and comes out with interesting ideas to use the things she buys on sale. So I was interested to see what Family Dollar would have. It was not a lot different from Dollar General but it was organized and clean and the aisles were wide, unlike the mess that the Dollar G I usually frequent is in. Their prices were almost the same as Dollar General so I decided not to go out of my way to this store since there is a Dollar General located half a mile from my school or another one an eighth of a mile from my house.

I wound up at Kroger to get groceries. I've been trying Friday nights after school instead of Sunday after church, but the place is crazy busy then so I think I'll abandon that. Not many deals, but I found a few, some for the pantry at school and one or two for me. My meals this week will be veggie soup for lunches, and black bean patties and quinoa bites for dinners. I had planned to use the two free range eggs poached atop gluten free bread this morning, but I forgot to buy the bread! I was so tired by then and the clouds and thunder were rolling in that I just quit and checked out. I was in bed by 9:00.

We are supposed to get wicked storms this weekend, heavy rain and thunder, so I'm happy to be home and ready to clean and then attend to my Bible stuff.

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend everyone.