A Long Absence

Posted November 12th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Family, My Work, Personal, Teaching, Travels

Windows, Side Light

When I began blogging in 2007,  I wrote almost daily.  I was excited to have a forum in which to share my life through thought and photography.  A lot has happened since then.  Not only am I busier than ever, I’m not at all the same person I was seven years ago.

Great joy has come to me, through the birth of two adorable grandchildren.  Leven and Ira, 3 and 2, are my heart, the center of everything I do.  Friends who were grandparents had said, “Just wait.  There is no way to tell you how wonderful it is.”   How very true were those words.  Blessings be!

I view things differenetly now, with an entirely new perspective.  Things which seemed important to me in the past now seem trivial.  My greatest  treasures are my family and friends.  They’ve all been lifelines.

“If I ‘d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself,”  attributed to Eubie Blake and others.  Aging brings wisdom, but also health issues.  I’ve now  outlived my father; my older sister has outlived both our parents as well as her late husband.  We all have the usual aches and pains.  I have a host of issues, most of which I don’t even think about.  The exception is macular degeneration, which threatens central vision.  But after almost three years of treatment, I can still see quite well.  I am so thankful for my wonderful retina specialist, Rick Weidman, and the researchers who developed the miracle drug Eylea.  I’m counting on being able to watch my grandbabies grow up!

I’m sewing once more, following a sabbatical in which I underwent three hand surgeries.  Finishing Ira’s quilt is my top priority.  After 33 years of travel teaching, I’ve decided to retire at the end of the year.  I want to work on my own projects now.  And of course spend a lot more time with the grandbabies.

Thanks to those who still check my blog occasionally for “something new” and not giving up when you see the page is unchanged.  Watch this space!

xo  Ellen.

Kitchen Renovation

Posted May 29th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Family, Personal, Vintage

We’ve lived with a mostly 1926 kitchen for decades.  I suppose we could have continued that way (after all, it did have a lot of character) except for the grandchildren.  After all, what are another few years added to the 42 in which we’ve “made do.”  But we wanted the little ones to have a space that was new and sanitary.  So we took the plunge!

An amazing amount of work has been accomplished in just a day over two weeks.  Demo, new electrical, new plumbing, HVAC, floor removal down to the original oak hardwoods, and I-beam installation.  Insulation (there wasn’t even a dust bunny to keep out the cold) will probably happen tomorrow followed by drywall next week.  Things will move very quickly after that.

I’ll post before and after pictures once I’ve had a chance to breathe.  Here’s what the 18′ x 18′ space looked like this afternoon:

Kit 5:29Southwest corner of kitchen.  Breakfast room wall was removed – see floor.  A pantry was also eliminated.

Kit 5:29 2

 South wall.  Our sink will be placed  under the center window.

Watch this apace!


Back to the Basics

Posted April 29th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Family, Personal, Recipes

Biscotti Done

For over 15 years, my husband has enjoyed cooking dinner……every dinner.  Breakfast and lunch (more often, blunch) are catch as catch can.  As a result, I’ve found I no longer know how to cook!  When I found myself having to check a cookbook for how long to boil potatoes, I decided to do something about that.  I’m in the process of once more teaching myself to cook.

My Mother was an excellent cook;  my aunts were too, my three sisters and I were all in 4-H, and my older sister is a home-economist.  All the ladies at the Grange excelled at baking and making Swedish coffee, in a big white porcelain coffee pot.  An egg is mixed in with the grounds, resulting in a coffee which is clear and delicious.  I was never successful at brewing it that way.  Back in the day, everything was made from scratch.  Our neighbor, Agnes Lindgren, at the next farm down the road, was from Denmark.  Her pastries were unbelievable.

It’s not as if I never learned to cook.  But it requires a certain familiarity with ingredients to turn out a good product.  The knack of knowing when a pie crust is just right, knowing from “how it feels” whether or not to add more flour to bread dough.  One has to stay in practice.  My goal is to build a library of “go-to” recipes. Real food, not just baking (which really is my specialty and love).  After all, we’re redoing our kitchen beginning May 12.  I need to be ready!

Parmesan Chicken was Sunday night dinner.  I’m a huge fan of Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, and used her recipe.  http://barefootcontessa.com/recipes.aspx?RecipeID=371&S=0   It was divine!  I especially liked the lemon viniagrette dressed salad served atop the warm chicken.  DH preferred his on the side.  Last night’s dish was macaroni and cheese, made with noodles (we were out of macaroni).  I used a mixture of sharp cheddar and parmesan cheese.  To me,  a midwesterner, macaroni and cheese is an entree’.  To my southern husband, it is a “side.”

Next attempt?  The Peach Bellini   Will I need little paper umbrellas?

Spring Garden

Posted April 9th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Garden, My Photography, Personal

Fern Fronds

Azalea 1

VA Bluebells

Azalea 2

In North Carolina, spring has arrived.  I was treated to a second showing of Yoshino cherry blossoms while in Greensboro over the weekend.  Just a hundred miles north of Charlotte, blossoms are only beginning.

I photographed azaleas just opening, ferns unfurling and Virginia bluebells in our garden this evening…………at the golden hour, my favorite time to shoot.  Hope it’s spring where you are!

Photos copyright Ellen Guerrant

Snow Day!

Posted February 12th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Birds, Garden, My Photography, Personal

Nandina 1

Branches Sky



Nandina 2

Woodpile 2

Yesterday Charlotte was blanketed with heavy, wet snow.    Although ours measured just over 2″, that’s a big deal for us.  I wandered around our yard and garden for a bit, photographing images which caught my eye.  My hands were so cold I couldn’t hold the camera still.

The coldness reminded me of my childhood in IL, where winter snows were common.  My sisters and I would spend all day outside, building snow forts and snowmen, having snowball fights and sledding.  Sometimes Daddy would hook a team of ponies to the sleigh, and off we’d go. At day’s end, our wool mittens soaked and our fingers red and freezing,  we’d all rush to the sink in our one bathroom and soak our hands in warm water until we could feel them again.  Mittens would be hung with clothespins on a wire hanger which Mother placed in front of one of the few registers we had in the 19th century farm house.  Forgetting how cold we had gotten, we’d be in the snow again the next day.  What an idyllic childhood it was.  Truly.

Photos are clickable.

Photography copyright  Ellen Guerrant, 2/11/2014