Christmas Time

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Christmas Time.  It’s that time of year when people are seemingly happy.  Choirs are singing.  Greeting cards are being written and mailed.  People are organizing their family get togethers.  Lots of people are decorating their homes and yards.  Folks are shopping for gifts for their loved ones. Hearts are full of love, peace, and joy.   There are our heroes deployed in active service who can’t be home with their families and friends for the holidays.  There are folks here back home who are homeless and don’t have families to be with during the holidays.

Cloud Covered Streets passes out shirts, toiletries and a note to homeless people.  Cloud Covered Streets is the street team of Paper Clouds Apparel, a small organic clothing company designed to help charities. The company is staffed by special needs employees.  50% of the profit sustains the business and 50% goes to the charity of the week they are supporting.  Your note may be the smile that is needed.  It my be the reminder that someone cares.  Your note may bring hope.

Valiant Veterans is a group during Christmas that sponsors veterans with “hidden wounds” like Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and others wounds that are not visible on the outside.  One of their programs is Operation Christmas Card.  It’s the mission of this program to love a soldier one card at a time.  Write a soldier.  Let them know their service is appreciated. Your note may be the comfort of home.

These are my picks.  I encourage you to write, give, or encourage as you see fit.  You may have a group of your on in mind.  One note can help encourage them.  Love and encouragement are free.  Smiles are contagious.  Memories are irreplaceable.  Share a moment with ones that this time of year may not have the shimmer that yours does.

Merry Christmas! Hugs!

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Autumn Wreath

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I have never been the girl to decorate for the seasons.  I hold all my decorating until Christmas.  Usually, I make sure to change my table cloth and place mats.  Joe and I plant a few flowers.  That is the extent of seasonal decorating at the Brown house.  However, after painting our front door and planting the mums for autumn I noticed our porch needed something.  This year I decided to have a fall wreath.

Our budget was already set for the month.  I have $20 to spend on a wreath. Pre-made wreaths are way out of my budget.  I decided to created a simple one.  I looked at magazines and Pintrest for DIY ideas.  I bought a basic medium grapevine wreath plain at the farmer’s market for $5.  The burlap and red ribbon I got from Hobby Lobby regular $3.99 for a spool.  I used a 40% off coupon to get the price point lower.  I went to visit my granny and she taught me how to make the bow.  It is tied on with a pipe cleaner.  I bought the wooden B and I can not remember from where.  I glitter glued it red.  I tied it on with a a simple thread.  The floral harvest sprig is one short piece from Michael’s that was $1.99 and is also attached by a pipe cleaner.

This autumn wreath is simple, affordable, and detachable.  For this DIY wreath I used all removable parts so that it can be repurposed at another time.  My goal was for a cute simple wreath for my front porch and I feel like I met that goal

Upcycle Meals

I am a recycler and upcycler.  I apply this to lots to things in my life.  I even apply this to my food.  So, last Thursday evening I baked a spiral ham which I served with potato salad and garden peas. It was a yummy hot meal. Since, I work about 7 minutes from work warm overs are my lunch. Joe ate warm overs too. This keeps us within a budget and limits our wastefulness. After, we have it for lunch the sides are gone and we are left with half of a ham.

I brainstorm.  Ham sandwiches are yummy, but I know we will get tired of those before it is gone.  It is still raining here and the temperature is dropping.  I choose black eyed peas to go with the ham.

Joe bought 2 one pound bags of dry black eyed peas.  He rinsed them and put them into a large Pyrex bowl to soak over night. The next morning I placed one pound in the Crock Pot with half of the ham cut into pieces to cook slowly thru the day. I add enough water that there is about an inch  about the peas.   I use two pebbles of pink Himalayan salt and a half teaspoon of black pepper, leaving the ham to do most of the seasoning.  I leave them cooking on high all day. The other half of ham I cut in to pieces with the other pound of black eyed peas into the dutch oven.  Again, I only use two pebbles of pink Himalayan salt and a half teaspoon of black pepper as my seasoning.  I love that if I have used to much water I can take the lid off the pot for awhile and it evaporates or if I don’t have enough water I can just add more.

At this point you may be thinking that is a lot of black eyed peas. Seriously, it is.  It is too much for a meal for just Joe and me.  However, I can divide it out and freeze with for a hot meal for later in the winter. Black eyed peas and ham is a meal that can stand alone.  Sometimes, Joe makes cornbread in his cast iron skillet.  I have had black eyed peas and rice as a side with chicken or pork chops.  I don’t settle for the same warm overs everyday.  Upcycled meals are just as yummy as the original ones.

Crocheting Baby Afghans

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Joe and I go to Mountain Marketplace Mission in April ever year.  It is a small mission in the mountains of West Virginia run by Gary and Lilly Melton.  The mission is to share the gospel by offering food, hygiene products, and other items to people in need.  This mission is dear to our hearts.

My mom crocheted three baby afghans for Joe to deliver to the mission last April. However, when packing the boxes, the afghans never made it to the car.  I had surgery so Joe did not go on the last October trip. We made sure they were in the car while packing for this year’s trip.  My Mom decided to go with us.  She had never been on a mission trip.  I know she was curious to see what is about this place that we love so much.  At the mission Thursday is the day that food and items are passed out. This particular Thursday in April canning jars and seeds are passed out. People come from all around to get seeds and jars to grow and can their own foods to sustain them thru the freezing mountain’s winter.  That day at different times three mothers showed up with infants…needing blankets and formula.  My Mom was able to hold each baby and give them a afghan she made. This hit her and me.  It is one thing to create the baby blankets.  There is a whole new perspective when you can associate a name and face with it.   Those moms received what they needed for those babies and my mom and I received a blessing.  The afghans were delivered a year late yet they were right on time.

I made a goal then and there I would crochet one baby afghan a month to deliver next April.  I want to pass on the blessing I received.  It is a relaxing task for me.  I enjoy crafting and creating.  I am using scraps of yarn that I have.  I have bought some.  Joe found large pounds of yarn at a thrift store that were still sealed.  He bought six spools for me.  I crochet while riding in the car, while watching TV, or anywhere that I can just sit for awhile and work them.  I am hoping I meet this goal.  I am behind, but I am not giving up.

Another Hysteroscopy

Time again for another hysteroscopy.  My body decided to shut down during the transplant procedure so the doctor said we would do hysteroscopy.  I have dreaded it since the moment he uttered the words.

The word hysteroscopy sounds scary, right?  It is a procedure using an instrument using a hystroscope.  It is like a thin slender light wand with a camera used to see into the linings of your uterus and endometrium.  It requires anesthesia.  Well, the procedure is itself is not horrible, but all the variables and unknowns drives me up the walls.  I don’t feel like I can handle any more bad news.  My heart wants healing and a baby badly.

My body hurts.  It hurts on the inside.  It is not like regular cramps.  Steel rods were inserted to dilate me to allow for open pathway for another transplant opportunity.  There was a pesky polyp that had to be removed.  And, now I have stitches.  I want to curl up and stay in bed for days.  It hurts on the outside.  I feel like my skin is stretched out. My body is tender to touches.  It hurts to have my clothes on.  Being in a sitting position for a long period of time hurts too.

It is another unexpected cost.  It is required to be paid ahead of time.  And, the anesthetist has to be paid too.  This was not in our budget either.

You would think that I could relax and settle after it was over, but nope.  I can’t.  My brain is on overload.  That pesky polyp has to be biopsied and here is another concern for me.  I have a follow up next week.  Ugh.  Positive thoughts until then, right?!

I’ve prayed.  Joe has prayed.  I will continue to pray.  Joe will too.  This is just another part of my journey.

Useful Art

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My brothers often call me a hippie.  We all are in agreement that I was born in the wrong era.  I love the home grown foods, a simple lifestyle, and old items.  My home is mostly decorated and functioning with antique and vintage items.  I find comfort in knowing someone loved each piece enough to take care of it.

I love Pyrex.  My Moma received a set of Spring Blossom mixing bowls and casseroles as a wedding gift.   I have loved my Moma’s green and white mixing bowl since I was a little girl.  I remember helping make cookies with her for holidays standing on a chair to reach the counter using her bowls.  I remember thinking they were happy bowls because of the daisies on them.  Joe and I received a small red bowl from the hostess set for one of our favorite shop owners Mrs. and Mr. Legette (M’s Variety) as a wedding gift.  My Granny gave me her Kim Chee and Joe’s Moma gave us her yellow primary 401. I have shelves of them.  They are not just pieces of Pyrex to me.  They are my treasure and memories.  I keep them on a shelf.  I take them down and use them with pride.

I love quilts.  I remember when I spent nights with my grandparents when I was little.  They didn’t have spare bed rooms or guest rooms.  I would sleep on the floor on a quilt pallet.  They were handmade beautiful color quilts made by family members out of clothing scraps that were torn, worn or discarded.  My Aunt Lula Mae and my Granny made one specially for me made of Raggedy Ann fabric when I was a baby.  That quilt is in my guest room today.  One that is dear to my heart is the one that the inside is my Papa’s United States Air Force issued wool blanket for Vietnam that my great aunts and Great Grandmother Newell sewed.    My Granny has given me many of hers over the years.   A beloved wedding gift Joe and I received was a quilt made of shirts belonging to his father.  I have them stored in a vintage armoire. I love the stories as well as the quilts.  These quilts are family history and memories.

I gravitate to items that have been loved and still require attention.  I don’t mind mending a piece, scrubbing something clean, or freshening it up.  I like the finding pieces and hearing the stories behind them.  Sometimes the shop owner or yard seller can share history of the items with me.  Sometimes, I have to check with Granny, my Dad, or Joe’s Mom for history lessons.  I am honored to have these items.

That’s me Neecie Brown.  I may be a hippie.  I may be a hoarder.  I may be a collector.  I may be a rescuer.  I don’t know.  I just know I love old things.

Southern Heart

Daybreak

Often you will hear me promote shopping locally, passing it on, and missions.  I believe in helping others.  I wholeheartedly believe in helping others that are trying to help themselves.  The south gets put down a lot.  Red necks, trailer trash, dumb, hicks, and racist are just a few names uses to describe southerners. And there are those types everywhere.  However, in general, southerners stand by each other through thick and thin.

During the flooding here in South Carolina kindness appeared again among South Carolinians.  Just as I have seen before.  I have seen folks using there boats to help evacuate homes.  I have seen  guys in 4x4s pulling wrecked vehicles to safety.  I hear how family and neighbors are opening their homes for the victims.  Animals are getting rescued by boats after neighbor hoods are checked.  Restaurants are opening the doors for free meals.   I know there are shelters, food banks, and clothing donation sites as well.

I haven’t seen or heard of looting.  I haven’t heard people screaming, “Give me give me!”  People of all races are helping is all there has been through this tragedy.

What I have heard is, “Bless your heart.  Let’s see what we can do.”  I have seen doors open.  I have talked to storm crews that are on their way.

In the south we talk kinda slow.  We fight for what we believe in.  We live simple.  We dig our heels in the ground and.  We love.  Neighbors are helping neighbors.  Friends are there for friends and families are coming together.  Southern heart.  Bless it.  It is not promoted enough.  Say what you will.  People in Carolina care.