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Sunday, October 5, 2014

What's the Buzz and Life at Boarding School



There are a few things happening in my back yard. The first is a fragrance so divine that it would be very difficult to ignore, even if I wanted to. I fell in love with this fragrance many years ago as a resident student at boarding school.

Let me tell you the story of how I discovered the fragrance. I had been excited about the prospect of attending a boarding school. I had never been away from home alone and thought it would be a positive experience--an adventure. I have to admit that it ultimately was a very good experience  and one which helped me to learn how to deal with all sorts of people, to mature and learn how to be independent in so many ways. Upon arriving, however, I found myself thrown into totally different surroundings, living in a room with three sets of bunk beds with five other girls!  The six of us girls shared a connecting bathroom with another six girls in the other room. Twelve of us and one bathroom. Living in what had once been a private mansion, now filled with dozens of people, other girls and Catholic nuns. These were people I had never known before. Some of whom , I was to discover, were a good deal more experienced and worldly than I.


After a while we girls were like sisters. We were "in it" together! Kindred spirits, watching each others back and posting look out when necessary! I found myself playing decoy on more than one occasion. Honestly, the stories could fill a book!

Have you ever lived at a boarding school? If you have, you know this is the truth. It is an experience unlike any other in the world and that is an understatement! Have you ever seen the movies The Trouble With Angels and Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows?  I promise you, life in boarding school was exactly like those two movies. For fun, I am posting links to Youtube clips from them here and here.  The nun who was in "command" of  our residence hall was a dead ringer for the one in these movies. She was tall and lithe and walked as if she was floating on a cloud. We could not hear her coming and she would appear as if by magic. She could smell cigarette smoke a mile away! I was glad I wasn't a smoker and seeing her grab the hand of a girl and sniff her fingers could strike sheer terror into the heart of anyone who might be contemplating lighting up!  If she ever caught a whiff, which was apt to happen, it could lead to some sever consequences! So could food fights in the dining hall. Consequences like being grounded on weekends for a month from dating privileges or from the privilege of going downtown on Saturday afternoons.

We had huge fireplaces in almost every room and the girls who smoked would rearrange the furniture. The fireplaces were no longer in use and the girls would place the long bureaus in which we stored our clothes in front of the fireplaces. The girls would hide in the fireplaces and smoke. Presumably, the smoke was to go up the chimney. It is amazing that the nuns didn't catch on. Now, I did not smoke, but I admit to being guilty of pushing the big bureau back after the others crowded into their hideout..

The dreaded "sniffer" came into our room once as I was trying to catch my breath from the exertion of moving that big piece of furniture back up against the fireplace. I decare,  I thought I was going to have a heart attack and die, right there on that very spot! Needless to say, so did the smokers who had just lit up. Sister spoke to me briefly. They heard what was going on and started stabbing those cigarettes out. They almost choked trying to keep from blowing out the smoke. To this day, I still cannot understand how she didn't smell it. I swore to myself that I would never do that again and, indeed, I did not!

After two years, the place had become a home to me and I loved it and the people. I adore those old movies about the "angels!" and can identify with the resident girls.  I kid you not that for each of the nun characters in those movies, no lie, we had a nun in residence with the personalities of those nun characters. They could have easily filmed those movies at our residence and school, using us girls and our nun overseers to play the parts! The similarities and circumstances are uncanny!

Okay. Let's get back to that heavenly fragrance in my back yard. It comes from a bush or some might call it a shrub.

There were many of these bushes located in what was referred to by everyone who lived at the residence hall as The Sunken Gardens. The Sunken Gardens was an area located about half way along the brick pathway from the residence hall to the school building where we resident girls attended classes, along with other day students (girls and boys) living in the Aiken area. It was on one of the trips from the hall to the school in early Fall my first year in attendance. It was around this same time of year that I first noticed this entrancing fragrance. That same aroma came wafting through the air every time I walked up that path. Such a sweet perfume! I was intrigued and so I finally asked one of the sisters where it was coming from. It is called Tea Olive bush.
Tea Olive Shrub
If you are interested, the technical name for the plant is Osmanthus. If you would care to find out more about this wonderful plant you might want to visit Clemson University's site here.  

I remember many times sitting in the Sunken Gardens and breathing in that wonderful fragrance and how it somehow helped to ease the feelings of  homesickness and uncertainty I was experiencing and made me feel more at home with my surroundings. A girl of sixteen can feel very alone when the family she has never been far away from seems light years away. As it turned out, I met the man I was to marry and spend my life and raise a family with while attending that school. As a matter of fact, he and I spent some time sitting in that special little spot in the Sunken Gardens!

I thought then, and still do, that if there is a fragrance in Heaven, surely it is that which comes from this shrub whose clusters of tiny and delicate white flowers are so unassuming as to be missed on first glance! I promised myself that someday I would enjoy this heavenly scent in my yard. And so I did. My husband and have planted one of these at every house where we have lived. It is an evergreen shrub. The fragrance wafts over the entire yard from those little flowers which appear in the Fall and several other times throughout the year!
Obedient Plant/False Dragonheard

Obedient Plant or False Dragonhead. It is called Obedient Plant, I have read, because it can be bent and will hold its shape for flower arranging. It is, as I have discovered not as obedient as its name implies as it is somewhat unruly in the garden and seems to want to spread itself about. I like it anyway as its flowers are a lovely bluish/purple in color and I like blue flowers. I couldn't get a better picture because of  some very aggressive Yellow Jacket wasps that were buzzing around. Every time I see one I have a flashback of a time I was drinking a Sprite after school while talking to my friend, Iris. I lifted the bottle to my lips, not noticing the Yellow Jacket sitting on the rim of the bottle. Oh, the throbbing pain! Oh, what a fat and swollen top lip! School pictures taken next day--not a pretty sight! I do not take any chances with those particular insects!

I loved Betty, my sweet and lovely mother-in-law. She loved growing flowers and she always had Marigolds in her garden. I learned a lot of things from her.  She taught me to save the seeds from Marigolds and I always think of her and miss her when I see Marigolds growing. I save seeds from the ones I grow now and I planted  several varieties in my vegetable beds in the Spring to try and discourage insect pests.  After I removed the spent veggies, I decided to leave the Marigolds for a while. They have now taken over and are putting on a real Fall show, spilling over the sides of the planters in a wild and reckless way!
Marigolds Spilling Over Planter

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Marigolds
What do you think about the fragrance of Marigold flowers? My opinion,  it is one you either love or strongly dislike. I know people who think they have a pleasant aroma. Not me.  I really do not like the smell and that may be why certain pesky insects might not bother vegetables planted among the flowers. It is my experience that one must get pretty close to one of the blooms to be able to smell it. Therefore, the assets of this plant far outweigh the fact that it possesses a somewhat unpleasant odor.

Marigolds grow in a great variety of hues of yellow, ranging from a buttery white to deep gold. To see a variety of beautiful Marigold,s you can check out any seed company's website or catalog. Here at Burpee Seed Company website, you will find many gorgeous types of Marigold plants. There is something else happening back there. Something else is buzzing!
Bumble Bees
Bumble Bees are buzzing about and working very hard, gathering up much nectar and pollen! They seemed totally oblivious to me as they worked and I was taking pictures. It is easy to understand where the term "busy as bees" comes from if you take a minute or two to watch them at work!

I realize that Bumble Bees do not make honey like Honey Bees do, but they have a purpose and so I am glad they have chosen to take up residence out back for a while. I am not a tree hugger but I think we need to to preserve and conserve whatever natural resources we can. I think most reasonable people realize and understand that bees play an integral role in the survival of the human race as they serve to pollinate many of the plants that we eat and use for various purposes. I have heard that our planet is losing much of its bee population. I am not fond of getting a bee sting or a sting of any kind, for that matter, but I am encouraged when I witness them as they eat the nectar on flowers and see the pollen stuck on their mouths. ensuring that we will be able to have plants to eat and to provide oxygen in the air for us and all the other animals in the world. And so the cycle continues. Therefore, it makes me happy to see they have chosen to stop for a while here in my little piece of the planet!

I hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane and thanks so much for stopping by to check out the buzz!










Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What a Crock!

Most of my readers probably know how much I like to go to thrift stores in search of treasures of one kind or another. I keep my eyes peeled for that certain item that I have my heart set upon. It  can take months or even years to hit the right place at the just the right time to find it--that thing I have been searching for without having to give up an arm and a leg to make it my own. I post today about one such item I have been looking for.

A week or so ago, I stopped by a little shop that I sometimes forget about. It is tucked away in an inconspicuous place and I glanced down and spied something that looked very much like something my heart had been desiring. It was sitting on the very bottom shelf of one of the displays. I figured it was a flimsy reproduction of some kind. I reached down, expecting to quickly lift it up to check it out. To my amazement, the thing was heavy--very heavy! I finally managed to get the thing on to a higher shelf, more at eye level, so I could examine it more closely.

It had a design on one side that I think is called "gaggle of geese" but when I turned it around looking for a maker's mark and a price., I saw a stamp on the reverse--a crown with an encircled number "1" and U.S.A., which I later discovered was the reason the item was so heavy. Such items made in the U.S.A. are very sturdy and heavy. The number 1 stands for one gallon. I was then wondering if there would be an equally heft price tag. When I found the price sticker I had to wonder if it was for real.

I asked myself,  "For the price they are asking, is this thing for real or is it a real crock?" It took a couple of minutes to soak in, but I decided, it is both. Seriously, it is not a "crock" as in not for real (an impostor or cheap reproduction). It is, however a real crock.  This seems to be a contradiction in terms.  It is not a crock but it is a real crock. Enough of the conundrums! A picture speaks a thousand words.


One Gallon Butter Crock 
I am one of those cooks who keeps a lot of kitchen utensils at the ready. I do not like to spend a ton of time digging through drawers as I work in the kitchen. I have utensils corralled in two different containers, one of which I was looking to replace. I had now found the perfect replacement, but was I prepared to pay the sticker price for this one? Would you pay $1.99 for it? That's right people, $1.99! Can you believe it?

You can visit some of the links below to see some similar crocks. There are vintage and antique ones out there. However, there do not seem to be many examples of the one gallon type for sale online.

Pinterest is a good place to find some good source to find ideas for using this type of crock for organization and decor.


Here is a comparable crock on Amazon.

Ebay is also a source for looking for some of these crocks and this antique one.



Well, I can tell you, I was not about to let it sit there a minute longer. I had been waiting a long time for this one and I could not get to the check out counter fast enough!

One Gallon Butter Crock to Hold Kitchen Utensils
I realized only after I was almost done with posting about the crock that the photo I had taken of the opposite side of the crock with the geese is one that I was planning to use for a future post. The other side does not particularly appeal to me and I will probably be using it with the maker's stamp side showing most of the time, anyway.

Granted, I discovered a vintage find, not an antique. It is probably not nearly as old as some old antique ones I have seen on some sites. It is not all cracked, chippy and crazed like those. It is, nonetheless, "genuine" and a true American-made product, something increasingly difficult to come by these days. For less than $2.00, I genuinely like it and am satisfied it will serve my purposes. Now, that's a real crock and what a crock!








Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hand Crafted Gifts are the Best!

Of all the gifts I have received over the years, the ones that are hand-crafted are the most significant and special to me. It's not that I do not appreciate every single thing that any friend or loved one gives me. I certainly do.

Because I am a person who has spent a lifetime  creating things myself, I understand how much thought and consideration, time, effort and materials are poured into the process of creating . There is something very unique and endearing about gifts from the heart and hands, even those made by the little children in our lives.

Bragging is not something I do much of, at least not on myself, and I am not starting now. However, I think it will be acceptable if I brag a little on my beautiful, generous and fabulously talented friend.

If you have visited my blog a few times you might remember that my friend, Harriette, and I spend a lot of time together, doing the things that we both enjoy so much. Sometimes it is going to our favorite thrift stores and having lunch. Sometimes, it is cooking or baking and other times it is working on a craft or sewing project, such as a the Memory Quilt we constructed from shirts for Harriette's husband. The shirts had been collected by her husband over the years and held significant memories from his boyhood, work sites and so on. You can see pictures and instructions on the process we used to make this special quilt  here and here. What a wonderful and fun project that was!

Last week, I went over to her house and when I walked in the door, she surprised me with an early birthday present! Well, actually it was more than one present. That's what I mean when I say she is generous. She is extremely generous! She crafted some beautiful things for me and I could not resist posting some photos of them.

I always have a dish towel or two hanging on the handle of my oven and they are constantly falling off when I am standing there prepping and cooking. Does that happen to you or am I the only one it happens to? Look what my friend sewed for me! It certainly solves the problem of the towel slipping off of the handle all the time.
Dishtowel to Hang Across the Handle of Oven Door
This pretty and practical dishtowel is made by cutting one regular terry dishtowel in half, crosswise, A lined pinafore style "bodice" is attached, front to one half of the raw edge of the dishtowel and pinafore back to the raw edge of the other half of the dishtowel. One length of grosgrain ribbon is attached to the "waist" in the front and another length of grosgrain ribbon is attached in the same manner to the back side of the towel. It looks like a little girl's pinafore or dress with the sides left open. It is made to slip over the oven handle. Then the ribbon ends are tied together on each side in bows.  It hangs by the "shoulders" and, after being tied, it stays securely on the handle. Isn't that just the perfect solution?

Here is a picture of the back. 
Back of Dishtowel  for Hanging on Oven Handle
Since we are a family of predominantly University of South Carolina fans my friend used fabric with a team theme for the front of the towel's "bodice."  I made a  close up picture, so readers can see how cute it is. The Gamecock mascot, Cocky, is one of the features on the fabric, as well as football helmets and the "Carolina C and Gamecock" logo!
Close Up of  the University of South Carolina Themed Fabric Used to Create the Dishtowel
One more photo of the dishtowel as it hangs on my oven door:
Dress Style Apron Hanging on Oven Door
My sweet friend knows me so very well. We are like sisters and she knows I am a very practical person and that I  like the things that are useful in helping me in my struggle to stay organized. Therefore, she sewed for me this awesome bag to use when I am sewing and crafting!
Clippings and Strings Bag With Attached Pin Cushion
Seriously now, isn't this the smartest thing? See how it hangs from whatever surface you choose to hang it from. This picture was taken outside on my deck, so it is hanging from the round table there. The attached pin cushion is filled with white sand(the kind you put in a child's sandbox) and is heavy enough that it holds the bag in place. I will be using this a lot in my craft and sewing room, where it will hang from the front of my sewing machine cabinet, handily holding those straight pins and clippings as I am sewing. No more reaching for that trash can, as this will be there at my right hand! I love the fabric she chose for the bag. Notice the cute little scissors. I know I will definitely be using this practical and pretty gift every time I sew!

Now, as practical as I am and as much as I enjoy homemaking, sewing and crafting, there is a side of me that still likes feeling feminine and chic! Yes, I enjoy a good dose of the "bling"  thing and I am known to wear dangling earrings. Feminine and chic, folks, describes how I feel when I wear this sparkling crocheted necklace and earrings set, made especially for me! 
Crocheted Necklace and Earring Set
Well, I adore the combination of black, grey and white! And a bit of silver in the mix sends this set over the top! My friend knows that I often wear these colors. In the above picture,  I am wearing the necklace with the multiple strands hanging round in the front, which I like a lot. But when I first saw it, I thought it would look great, also, being worn as a casual "lariat" style.  Here, the necklace is turned around so that the connecting strands with beads are hanging in the front. 
Crocheted Necklace Worn "Lariat" Style
I think that, depending on what this necklace is being worn with, it will look just great this way, too. What do you think?  I can get two looks from the same necklace. There I go being practical again!

Sorry for the "deer in the headlights" look in the first picture of me wearing the necklace. You might have guessed, I took these pictures of myself.  As you can see, I am no expert at taking "selfies!"

Thanks for visiting my blog and reading about the things my dear, sweet, enormously talented and generous friend created for me!  She is the best friend anyone could hope for and I feel so very grateful and blessed that God placed her in my life!

Thank you,  Harriette,  for all the birthday goodies!







Monday, August 25, 2014

Painting a Carriage House Lantern Style Light Fixture


 I have long found carriage house or lantern style lighting to be very charming. Some people might refer to the style as Georgian. The appeal for me is the old world charm such fixtures exude. To me, the lantern style fixtures go well with the French Country aesthetic and I am quite partial to that style.

The ones I so much admire are often painted black and sport lots of sparkling glass "windows" or panes of glass.  Though I adore the style, the retail price for most of these beauties is much more than I care to pay. So, I  was keeping an eye out for something that would have the characteristics I had been looking for and still be achievable at a price I was willing to pay.

Some time ago, I was perusing a local thrift store and spied a light fixture that had lots of potential. It was, however, not black but a shiny brass one. It was in very good condition and, at around 22 inches in height, was a perfect size for my family/living room. The fixture had six lovely etched glass "window" panes. Everything in the store that day was half  price. Knowing that I could transform this neglected lady from a brassy blond to a dark and sultry brunette with a few good coats of spray paint, I purchased her for only fifteen dollars and brought her home with me. She had to wait for quite some time (about a year, as I recall) before I finally got around to giving her an overhaul.

Afterwards,  I am pleased to say it looks exactly as I had envisioned it would! Here are some photos of the finished product as it now hangs in our family room.


Painted Carriage House Lantern Style Ceiling Light Fixture

Painted Carriage House Lantern Style Ceiling Light Fixture


 Fixture with lights burning:
Painted Light Fixture With Lights Burning

Close Up of Light Fixture With Lights On

Here is a picture of the fixture as it looked before I painted it.
Shiny Brass Carriage House Lantern Style Lamp Before Painting
For the transformation, I used this Krylon Paint + Primer in "Black Hammered" for plastic and metal. I have used this paint before and found it works very well.

I have found that with most projects,  preparation is the most time consuming part. This paint project was no exception. The first thing I did was to clean (do not immerse in water)the fixture with a damp, lint-free, cloth and a bit of mild dish detergent. I made sure to get in to all the crevices to remove any dust and dirt that had accumulated. I wiped the fixture with a damp, lint-free, cloth to rinse and used a dry cloth to remove any remaining moisture. I made certain that the fixture was completely dry. 

I then unscrewed each of the six small caps on the top of each of the glass window sections. Removing the screw caps allowed me to detach the inside section and top section from the glass portion of the fixture.  I cut rectangles of paper the size of the glass panes and used the paper and painter's tape to completely cover the glass sections on the inside and outside of each pane. Painter's tape was also used to wrap around each of the bulb sockets(where the light bulbs screw in). Only the brass was left exposed. This is what it looked like after disassembling the two sections and applying the paper and painter's tape:
Carriage House Lantern Style Ceiling Light Fixture After Preparing to Receive Paint
I covered a section of my deck with newspaper and hung the candelabra section from the deck with a wire coat hanger. I covered my deck table with newspaper and placed the prepared glass section of the fixture on top of the newspaper and started to paint both sections, making certain that all brass surfaces were evenly covered with the black paint. I turned this around several times to make sure I reached the other side. It was actually hanging away from the side of the deck, though it does not appear that way in this photo. The fixture was not touching the newspaper.
Process of Spray Painting Carriage House Lantern Style Ceiling Light Fixture
Glass Section of Ceiling Light Fixture while being spray painted:
Spray Painting Ceiling Light Fixture

I sprayed the fixture with several coats of the paint according to the instructions on the can of paint. I allowed each coat to dry for about twenty (20) minutes in between coats. The sections of the fixture were allowed to dry for a couple of days. I then reassembled the fixture and my husband and I  removed the fixture which was currently hanging in our family room and installed the newly painted lantern style fixture. That was definitely NOT a bonding experience! I could write another whole post about it, but I might have to ask him to do something again in the future. I suppose I had better keep the whole nerve-racking event (ordeal) off the web! 

This gal really does look new again! After all was said and done, it was worth all the work of preparation and painting the fixture and I am pleased with how it turned out. It makes me happy when I look at it hanging in our family room!

Painted Light Fixture


Just goes to show how something that is no longer wanted by one person can be given new life and bring satisfaction and pleasure to another!






Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sumptuous Snickerdoodle Cookies

Do you like cookies? Most people do enjoy a cookie every once in awhile and I am no exception. There is nothing quite like the fragrance of goods freshly baked in one's own kitchen. Cookies are one of those treats that are especially fun to make when you can share the experience with one of your favorite grandchildren. Kids love to help while baking is being done and my Sophie is no exception.

Of all the desserts classified as cookies, Snickerdoodles are one of my absolute favorites. For some reason, I have never actually baked Snickerdoodle cookies. That is, I have never baked any homemade Snickerdoodles, totally from scratch. I have bought the ones that are in a plastic tub (some of which are even already pre-formed individual portions of dough). You may have purchased these and they can be stored in the freezer. Now, mind you, those are actually pretty good. At least, the ones I have had experience with have been good.

For the past week or so, I have been guiltily thinking about baking up a batch of Snickerdoodle cookies. I was in charge of two of my granddaughters this week. Snickerdoodles are Sophie's favorite cookie as well. When I mentioned that I was planning to bake some Snickerdoodles my  Sophie wanted to assist in the kitchen. I strive to always welcome and encourage little helpers to learn their way around in the kitchen, so we got started right away.

We used this recipe from Farberware's baking site and, I kid you not, these are some of the best cookies I have ever made. Sophie agrees they are the best she has ever made too! This is how they look.
Sumptuous Snickerdoodle Cookies

The recipe made some thirty (30) large cookies for me. It states in the recipe that it makes 33-35 cookies, so if you don't a slightly smaller cookie, then I am sure you can probably get that many out of it.

Some Snickerdoodles are really crunchy and hard, but NOT these. The cookies from this recipe are crisp enough so that they do not fall apart when you touch them, but they are incredibly soft and chewy and they fairly melt in your mouth. They are sumptuously tender and full of buttery, sugary cinnamon flavor.  They are not for those of you who are faint of heart or who are afraid of butter because, yes, they do contain real honest-to-goodness butter. An entire cup, as a matter of fact!
Snickerdoodle Cookies from Farberware Baking Co. Website

Therefore, if you are persnickety about what's in your "per" Snickerdoodles then, by all means, go with another recipe. However, if you like the occasional sweet and buttery indulgence, these definitely rise to the occasion. My opinion is that if you are going to indulge, you might as well make it worth it!
Snickerdoodle Cookies

For your convenience, I have copied the recipe here:



Snickerdoodle Cookies


This recipe uses the simplest ingredients, but it’s almost impossible to eat just one snickerdoodle. The edges are wonderfully crisp while the inside is soft and chewy. Although similar to a sugar cookie, the snickerdoodle is rolled in cinnamon sugar just before baking, giving the outside a dark crackled top.

Ingredients

Recipe Details

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, granulated sugar. Cream on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to incorporate. Scraping down bowl and beating again to insure all ingredients are incorporated and not lumpy.
  5. Add sifted ingredients and mix on low speed until incorporated.
  6. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Stir with a spoon until evenly combined.
  7. Scoop 2 tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place on parchment lined cookie sheet, leaving 2-inches between them.
  8. Bake at 350 for 10-11 minutes, center should still be very soft. These cookies over bake very easily. Remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheet.
I provided the link to the recipe near the beginning of this post and I will give it to you again here! There are lots of other recipes on the site!

The recipe does come with a preface that it is almost impossible to eat just one and I won't lie about it, I did not eat only one. These things are seriously addictive! Fortunately, I shared the batch I made with family and friends!

Blogger's Note: I used King Arthur Flour in baking these cookies. I have had the best results when I use it and if it ain't broke, I am not going to try and fix it! I am not making an endorsement but it certainly works for me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

FRENCH BOTTLE DRYER OBSESSION

It has been ages since I last posted on my blog and I really miss posting and visiting others on a regular basis. It so happens that I have been having a lot of pain and discomfort in my hands for several years and it has become more intense and debilitating in recent months. I have been severely limited in my ability to do many of the things I like most to do. Being one who puts off going to see a doctor until it can no longer avoided, I kept hoping things would get better and things only got worse. I finally broke down and went to see the doctor who had performed carpal tunnel surgery on one of my hands years ago. I was thinking (hoping) he would probably tell me a there was a quick fix for whatever was ailing me. It was a real let down to hear that I have arthritis in both hands and in one hand there is no cartilage  between the thumb and index finger at all. In his words, "bone is literally touching bone in the joint." Any surgery to try and correct the problem would be very involved and would take many months of recovery, so I quickly opted out of that--at least for now.

This means I will not be able to do many of the things I dearly love to do and that is very depressing, so I will not dwell on the subject more in this post.

As I have stated in previous posts, I adore French design elements and, most especially, Country French design. One of the things I have fallen in love with is the French bottle dryer and have been yearning to have one of my own. I have been able to find a few images and ideas on Pinterest for using them in design and decor. This is one image of a French bottler dryer/dryer rack. Here is another and another here. The French bottle drying rack or bottle dryer can be used in many ways. It can be decorative or utilitarian, as in this photo posted on Pinterest.

I have been hoping to find one of these beauties somewhere and at a price I could afford. Well, it just so happens that on Easter this year, our family went to celebrate at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and Restaurant. If you have never been to one, you might want to check it out here. Our family loves to eat at Cracker Barrel, and we almost always check out the store to see what is new and, even better, what things are on clearance. Well, to my amazement, there was a French bottle drying rack sitting right smack dab in the middle of the clearance merchandise. One of my daughters saw me admiring it, knowing how much I wanted one. She sneakily sent her son, my grandson, back into the store after we sat down to eat to purchase it for me. To say I was thrilled would be understating.

I love the bottles that the syrup comes to your table in at Cracker Barrel. Over the past several years I have been collecting little bottles. I had initially collected them to put little samples of homemade wine and continued to save them on a pretty regular basis. They are so cute and have endless possibilities!

The bottles came immediately came to mind to use on the rack. I did not have quite enough to fill it, so I have been collecting more and asked family members to do the same. About a month ago, I finally acquired enough to fill the rack. Today, I got around to snapping a few photos of the rack with the little bottles hanging on it. If you like French Country decor, you would probably like having one in your home. I hope you will enjoy the following pictures!
My French Bottle Drying Rack
My French Bottle Drying Rack
My French Bottle Drying Rack'
My French Bottle Drying Rack
Do you like French bottle drying racks? I adore mine and am planning on using it for a very long time!














Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens

I attempted to write this post earlier and somehow managed to publish the post before it was completed. Therefore, I am giving it another shot. Please forgive if you inadvertently received the fragment of the first attempt. I hope that doesn't happen again as it is very disconcerting, to say the least.

Today, I would like to share another place that is near and dear to my heart. Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens is a wonderful place to visit and has been named among the top ten zoos in America by TripAdviser in May, 2012. You can read about that here

We have been visiting Riverbanks for many years and, as with many places we know and love, we have watched it evolve. We began taking the eldest of two daughters when she was very young and she is now in her early forties. We now have the privilege of taking our five grandchildren, more often to the zoo than to the gardens because, like most children, they love seeing all of the many animals. There are very large mammals, amphibians and reptiles. There are a variety of aquatic animals, including some fairly large sharks and even tiny seahorses and other sea life. The walkways and paths in the walking areas provide a good deal of shade on warmer days and the flora. trees and shrubs of many varieties are a feast for those of us who love plants and gardening, even if you cannot make it over to the Gardens.

I am not receiving any monetary or other compensation from Riverbanks for sharing this information with you. As I have said many times before, I enjoy sharing ideas with my readers about places to go that are both fun and entertaining and, sometimes, educational. I also like saving money when I see an opportunity to do so.

Since we now have five grandchildren, who always enjoy going to the zoo, we decided years ago to purchase an annual membership in the Riverbanks Society. It is the most economical way for us to be able to take our grandchildren to the zoo as often as we would like, all during the year. The Family Plus membership that we have purchased for many years, though it has increased a little over the years, is $94.00. Membership gives us unlimited access to the zoo and gardens and our grandchildren can get in with us with no entrance fee. Currently, we are provided 12 guest passes to give to others for a day at the zoo and/or gardens. Not only does our membership help to protect our earth's wildlife and wild places, but it gives us free or discounted admission to more than 100 zoos and aquariums nationwide. To see a list of the many zoos and aquariums, nationwide and in Canada and Mexico, which are reciprocals you can go to this link. You can see why membership in a zoological society could be a real money saver, even when you travel to other places.

The remainder of this post will be comprised mostly of pictures taken during two recent visits to Riverbanks Zoo. We went once during early spring, when the grands were on spring break, and again this past Saturday. We were happy to have my youngest daughter's in-laws with us on Saturday. 

This enormous grizzly bear looks so laid-back. He seems to know how to "chill" as well as the best of us!
Grizzly Bear at Riverbanks Zoo

Another den-mate is this grizzly bear.
Grizzly Bear at Riverbanks Zoo
Can you see the Amur (Siberian) Tiger lying just behind a tree in this photo? The tigers are extremely large and are sometimes stalking back and forth, but were a little elusive on this visit. What beautiful cats!
Amur (Siberian) Tiger at Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia, S.C.
King of the jungle, the proud and magnificent African lion looks as if he is posing. He is awesome!
Magnificent African Lion at Riverbanks Zoo
His lioness also appears to be sitting pretty for this shot.
African Lioness at Riverbanks Zoo
Beside the walkway in front of the lion exhibit is a wonderful sculpture created by an artist named Thomas Humphries. All materials used in creating this sculpture are recycled, including pieces of metal and other materials. I think it is a gorgeous piece. You can read more about Thomas Humphries and see more of his work by checking out this Facebook page.
Lion Sculpture Made of Recycled Materials by Thomas Humphries
No child can pass up the opportunity to climb on anything and my grandchildren are certainly no exception. At the gorillas and primates exhibits is this beautiful bronze of a gorilla. Note the beautiful shrubs, plants and trees in the background. The bench makes a nice place for resting and reflecting.

Gorilla Bronze at Riverbanks Zoo
The gorillas didn't seem to want to stay in one place long enough for a picture. Two Hamadryas baboons, a female standing and male (with mane) are pictured here: 
Hamadryas Baboons at Riverbanks Zoo

This is the golden lion tamarin.


This strange looking bundle of fur is actually a sloth, though he seems to seldom show his face. He is hanging upside down by his toes.
Sloth at Riverbanks Zoo
Kangaroos.
Red Kangaroos at Riverbanks Zoo

Giraffes.
Giraffes at Riverbanks Zoo

An ostrich.
An Ostrich at Riverbanks Zoo
African elephants.
African Elephants at Riverbanks Zoo
A Caribbean Flamingo died last month at Riverbanks. This was especially noteworthy because she was the last of the original animals to be at the zoo when it opened forty years ago. You can read about this if you would like here in an article published in The State newspaper. She was several years old when she arrived at the zoo, so was well over forty years old and was was hatching chicks until  2009!

The flamingos are located just outside the entrance of The Birdhouse. Here is a picture of some of the vibrantly colored Caribbean Flamingos residing at Riverbanks.
Caribbean Flamingos at Riverbanks Zoo
The flamingo in the following picture was making a big fuss and coming up to the fence, trying to get attention. Maybe it was looking for a handout of shrimp, but I have never seen any of the flamingos exhibit this behavior beforeand I have observed them many times. I could not resist getting a picture of this dubious character, trying to "talk" to our Rachel, who is cautiously posing. 

Caribbean Flamingo at Riverbanks Zoo

Another photo of the persistent flamingo: 
An Inquisitive Flamingo at Riverbanks Zoo

Inside The Birdhouse are many species of exotic birds from Africa, Asia and South America. One section, Penguin Coast, houses several species of penguins. They eat, swim and play behind the glass enclosure. I snapped a few pictures of them, which remind me of  scenes from the movie "Happy Feet!"
Penguins in The Birdhouse at Riverbanks Zoo
Penguin in The Birdhouse at Riverbanks Zoo

Some of the Penguins in The Birdhouse at Riverbanks Zoo

Wreathed Hornbill, One of the Birds in The Birdhouse at Riverbanks Zoo
The Aquarium and Reptile Complex at Riverbanks is awe-inspiring. The following photos were taken there and are not nearly all of the specimens on exhibit. First, I will post some of the snakes, both venomous and non-venomous. I am not going to try and name them. I remember the names of some, but not all.
Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo


Snake at Riverbanks Zoo
 Frogs, Lizards, Geckos and Gigantic Hissing Cockroaches!




Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches at Riverbanks Zoo

A few of the many fish and sea creatures:




Some sculptures at Riverbanks Farm exhibit.

Goat Sculpture at Riverbanks Zoo Made from Recycled Materials 

Fox and Rabbit Bronze Sculpture at Riverbanks Zoo
Some of the animals at Riverbanks Farm exhibit.

Riverbanks Zoo Farm

Riverbanks Zoo Farm




Riverbanks Zoo Farm
Grandpa and Grandma's Gardens:
Grandpa's Garden at Riverbanks Zoo

Grandma's Garden at Riverbanks Zoo

Grandma's Garden at Riverbanks Zoo
A pony ride:
Pony Ride at Riverbanks Zoo
A fun train ride:

Train Ride at Riverbanks Zoo
Riding the carousel:
Carousel at Riverbanks Zoo
Riverbanks now also offers a zip-line experience in which you "zip" all the way across the Saluda River which runs between the zoo and the gardens. We stood on which you can walk across to the gardens and watched people go across on the zip line. My batteries had died in my camera and so I didn't get a picture of this.

This is my only post in a month and it is probably the longest yet, so I will end with just a few pictures of the beautiful flowers now in bloom at the zoo. I hope that you will visit Riverbanks if you live in or visit the area. I hope, also, that you will be inspired to visit the ones that might be located near you.
Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo



Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo

Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo

Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo
Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo


Goodnight all!