Quick Potato Soup with Sickroom Mealtime Tips

#potato soup for sickrooms #recipes for sick people #sickroom recipes #potato soup recipe

Everyone has a sick person to take care of at some time – even if it’s themselves. This is a quick, digestible little recipe that only takes 15 or 20 minutes to prepare. It’s great for a sudden hunger pang or when you have less time to make a meal. Included are the recipe and tips for mealtimes for the sick folk in your care. Continue reading

How Grandfather invented windowscaping, or, every room needs a beautiful view

My grandmother’s health took a downturn when she was in her forties, and the doctor ordered her to bed for almost six months. Dear Grandfather was beside himself. My mother took over many of the household duties and swore that was why she was such a good cook. But my poor grandfather felt helpless.
“What can I do?” he would plead, but there seemed to be nothing to do but what he was already doing.
Then one day he had an idea.
My mother was looking out the back door when Grandfather creaked open the metal arched gate to the back yard with a gorgeous pale yellow jasmine plant in his arms.

“Where’re you gonna put it?” My mother asked.

“Outside your mother’s window, so she can smell it all day long.”

He placed it just so, asking Grandmother if she could see it better here or there – sort of like an optometrist appointment. And after a half hour’s work and many anguished questions through the screen from my grandmother, the jasmine stood tall, proud, staked and fertilized just outside her window. She enjoyed the scent that came in on the breeze and the beautiful blossoms. Grandmother always swore it helped her recover.

This success went to my grandfather’s head. He had discovered a way to satisfy a very basic human need – the need for beauty. He was on a roll. Every bedroom – all two of them – had to have something sweet-smelling outside the windows. For my mother and father’s room, it was honeysuckle. What heaven! Then he attacked every other window in our little house, digging and planting and rearranging and paying visits to the neighbors to see if they would mind letting him have a cutting from an admired plant. He became a regular at the nursery. If “frequent shopper” rewards had existed back then, he would have been able to buy a new car.

He moved past the search for intoxicating scents and on to the aesthetics of gardening. Every window smelled good; now it had to have a beautiful view. More huffing and puffing and planting ensued. When my grandmother was up and around again, she decided that what was inside could help what was outside. To accent the yellow-blooming jasmine, she brought in yellow and white flowers with a long trail of ivy and put them in a milk-glass vase by the window to tie the two together.

Blue hydrangea #flowers #hydrangea #blooms #blossoms #flowers #gardening

Image “Blue Hydrangea” courtesy of panuruangjan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Under the front windows was a stand of hydrangea. These she doctored with vinegar or lime to change the acidity of the soil and thereby the color of the blooms. As time went on, she had a multicolored group of the loveliest flowers in the neighborhood. And she could enjoy them from the kitchen window.

Their philosophy of gardening and decorating hinged on a deep-rooted love of nature that came from living in quiet country places blessed with lush vegetation, fresh air and abundant wildlife. Growing up in a naturally beautiful environment gave them sights into beauty that otherwise could take many years to learn.

I still think of my childhood home and the example set for me there, and at my own home there is something I love to see outside every window but one.

I’m working on it….

Modern methods of changing hydrangea color can be found at Gardenista.

Better Homes and Gardens has lovely ideas for planting window boxes.

Southern Living has a great list of the best spring flowers to plant.

For windowsill gardens, Better Homes and Gardens has good ideas on that, too.

For color theory in flower gardening, take a peek at House and Garden Television.

Text copyright ©Jill Teresa Farmer, 2015

How to hang out the wash without disturbing the birds, or, Lessons from a wonderful neighbor

I had always helped my mother and grandmother hang out the wash. By “help” I mean handing them the clothespins and singing “Bringing in the Sheets”, my mistaken rendition of the old hymn “Bringing in the Sheeves”. At least I was on key. How fresh everything smelled from clean country air!

I loved this small chore so much that I farmed myself out to help the neighbors. Across the street lived Mrs. Johnson. Having a grown son who lived in another town made her a bit lonely for small companionship, so she happily accepted my “assistance”.

Hers was one of those old clotheslines made up of a “T” of hollow metal tubes. But it wasn’t as drab as it sounds, as a beautiful yellow-blooming vine twined across one end. It was probably that vine that drew other lodgers to the clothesline. Every year a bird would build a nest in one arm of that end post, lay her eggs, and go through all the avian motions of raising a tiny family.

Now there is one hitch to all this: birds are easily disturbed by humans, especially mother birds. And we needed that clothesline. But Mrs. Johnson was a nature lover like the rest of us, and she knew the difficulties all new mothers face. So we started hanging out the wash – in the house. We draped towels and clothes over every available waterproof surface. But that still left the sheets. Where on earth would we put those?

We would have made any onlooker very curious. First Mrs. Johnson would take a delicate pinch of snuff to steel her nerves. Then we would peer around the back screen door. Was she home? We would hold our breath – did you hear a chirp? Was that a flutter at that end of the clothesline? Maybe we can’t see her for the vine. Better stand here a minute to be sure.

Once we were convinced she was away from home, we would tiptoe out and hang out the wash in mute silence, using hand signals for “another pin, please”, and the frantic one for “Here she comes – get back in the house!” We used only the end of the clothesline farthest from the birds, and many a sheet that would have dried wrinkle-free was ironed because it had to be scrunched up to fit on a tiny section away from the little nursery.

Afterward we would sit on the screened-in back porch in happy satisfaction, sipping ice tea with plenty of sugar. As the days went by, we were treated to a view of nest material hanging out of the pole, small eggs, the sound of little cheeps, then a tiny beak or two. Then flying lessons. Then, the big day – the little family would be raised and the nest deserted.

Despite the strain it had been on our nerves, it was always sad when the abandoned nest held no more life. We would change back into our off-season routine. No more wet clothes over the back of the Johnson kitchen chairs. Everything could go right out on the line. We could laugh and sing as we worked our way down to the end of the old rope.

But at the end of every laundry session, Mrs. Johnson would cast a wistful eye at the end of the clothesline. I knew what she was thinking, for I was thinking the same: “I hope they’re happy, wherever they are.”

From Mrs. Johnson and the wonderful women like her, I learned reverence for all God’s creation, and that chores shared with those you love are not really chores at all. She taught me that we can all peacefully coexist with just a few concessions, seeing things from the other’s point of view, a lot of consideration for others, and, if necessary, a pinch of snuff.

Text copyright © Jill Teresa Farmer 2015. All rights reserved.

The names in this true story were changed to protect privacy. And it’s a shame – “Mrs. Johnson” was a lovely lady and a real character. I was privileged to have her in my life.