My four-year-old grandson burst through the front door the other day with a big smile on his face and a handful of flowers from the field in front of my house. I’ve gotten some beautiful flowers over the years, but none of them can compare to the ones handpicked for me by my children and my grandchildren.
It’s January 2022. The beginning of another year. Time to put 2021 away and make plans for the months ahead. A time for self-reflection. One filled with regrets for the things I didn’t accomplish in the past year and renewed determination to finish them this time around.
I spend a lot of time at home during the winter months for all the obvious reasons. It can be confining at times. Even depressing. But I have people close to my heart who keep tabs on me. And daily visitors who never fail to give me a lift.
Birds show up at the birdfeeder outside my window every morning. I watch from my desk while they eat, occasionally squabbling over the birdseed or staring at me indignantly when it’s run out. Their presence reminds me of the beautiful world I live in.
Before I moved to this part of the state, I never realized there were longhorn cattle here. I always assumed they were in the western part of the state. I found out otherwise.
This is Blaine. She’s one enterprising teenager. She will be 17 in October, a homeschooled Junior in the fall and is currently attending PENN Foster in the Veterinary Tech program.
She is the current International Texas Longhorn Princess and the Winnsboro 4H President
She works at Pittsburg Vet Clinic and owns Circle B Longhorns and Longhorn Legado. She raises longhorn cattle and markets the beef. I’ve tried it. It’s great. Tastes like hamburger meat used to taste before they started adding all the fillers. Check out her Facebook page: Circle B Longhorns.
You’re probably wondering if I’ve lost my mind. Why I’d be gushing about a ratty looking Club Aluminum Dutch oven that’s seen better days. Especially when I have a fancy stainless steel set that cooks just as good or better. I bought it years ago at a garage sale for next to nothing. It was used, so all I had to do was keep the inside clean. The wear on the outside gave it character.
I can’t count the pot roasts it’s held. Or the cold winter days when it simmered on the back burner all day, filling the air with a heady fragrance of chili, stew, pinto beans or potato soup. It’s been used to make popcorn, caramel corn, fudge, cream pies, and mountains of mashed potatoes. Or potato salad.
When I moved to a smaller house, I thought about getting rid of it. I didn’t really need it anymore. But here’s the thing. I couldn’t let go. Too many memories. Nights when the family gathered around the table and ate together. Holiday meals, parties, barbecues and family get togethers.
Yeah, I think I’ll hang on to it.
Daylon Jones Royal February 15, 1945 – October 20, 2015
While channel surfing a while back, I happened to catch the end of Close Encounters. Never see that movie that I don’t think of my husband. Especially now that he’s gone. It was one of his all-time favorites. I never really thought about it until today, but now I understand why.
In the movie, Richard Dreyfuss plays Roy Neary, an average middle-class guy who loves his family and works hard to provide for them. Only there’s another side to his character. He still believes in magic. In the movie, when Roy experiences a close encounter, he doubts his sanity. But he can’t let it go, because deep down inside he wants it to be true. So he makes up his mind to prove it.
My husband was the same kind of man. He worked hard, took care of his family and lived a quiet life. But like Roy, there was more to him than met the eye. The casual observer never saw his keen sense of adventure. He had a fascination for the mysterious, the unexplained. The idea of travelers from another world was intriguing to him.
He would have loved the chance to do what Roy did. So it isn’t hard to visualize him standing on the runway at the end of the movie, all smiles. Reluctant to leave his life on earth, yet filled with nervous anticipation at the thought of going on an adventure beyond the stars.
I like to think that’s exactly what he’s doing right now. And I’m certain he’s enjoying every minute.
And someday, I’ll join him.
I got this recipe from Pinterest. It’s a great place to search for recipes with ingredients you have on hand. In my case, I had frozen strawberries and greek yogurt, so I searched for strawberry yogurt muffins. These muffins came out moist and just sweet enough. I’m going to try adding chocolate chips next time. Great with a cup of coffee!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tap. Salt
¼ cup butter
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup sugar
1 cup plain yogurt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup chopped strawberries
¼ cup brown sugar for the top
Directions:Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and oil until smooth. Add the egg, yogurt and vanilla extract to the sugar mixture and mix well.In a separate bowl, combine the first four dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet mixture.Add the chopped strawberries and lightly mix in.Place paper muffin liner in your muffin tins. Use a ¼ cup scoop to fill the liners. Sprinkle a little brown sugar on the top of each muffin.*Chocolate chips would be a great optional add. Add 1 cup with the strawberries.Bake for 12-14 minutes for regular muffins and 8 to 10 mins for mini muffins or until golden on top and toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
I usually bake something for the guys in the family on their birthday, and this year my son-in-law requested a pecan pie. I don’t know if I’ve ever cooked one before, but I got this recipe from my sister. Her pies are always delicious. But I’m pleased with the way it turned out. Here’s the recipe in case you want to try making it.
GRETTA’S PECAN PIE
1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 T flour
2 T butter
1 t vanilla (I always add more)
1 cup pecans
Combine all ingredients and pour into an unbaked 9” pie shell. Bake at 375 degrees or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
I had a conversation with my granddaughter recently. She’s off at college and has developed an interest in growing things. She was all excited about new leaves on one of her plants. We talked about things blooming in the spring and about how seeing them brings a lift to our spirits. Another one of God’s gifts we get to enjoy. And it doesn’t cost a thing.
The Crabapple tree in my front yard gets prettier every year. I’m thinking it’s over ten years old. My daughter planted it. They are believed to have originated in the mountains of Kazakhstan. Though it’s not clear how they arrived here, at least three crabapple species are native to North America: Malus coronaria, M. fusca, and M. ioensis.
My daughter also planted the Spirea Bush. It is a genus of about 80 to 100 species of shrubs in the family Rosacae. They are native to the temperate northern hemisphere with the greatest diversity in eastern Asia. I have planted three more around the side and the back of the house. The soil here is perfect for growing things.