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Repurposing Christmas

22 Jun

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

We have been enjoying visits from family the past two weeks and I haven’t had much inclination to spend time on the computer. I do want to take a quick minute to share my latest repurpose project.  I fell in love with this gift bag at Christmas and purchased several to tuck Christmas gifts for my friends into them. When we returned to the mountains in May, I spotted one that I had left on the table when we closed up for winter. It brought me so much pleasure, I set it on top of our tea box as a decoration.  When I cut some hydrangea blossoms to enjoy in the house, I decided the Christmas bag would be a perfect way to dress up the plain vase.

 

Good Friends, Good Food

1 Jun

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Yesterday we visited with friends in Anderson, South Carolina. That is like going to the big city for those of us living in the mountains. We did some shopping together and had lunch in a wonderful restaurant specializing in Southern home cooking, Mama Penn’s. Mama P runs a daily meat and three special. For those not from the south, that means a meat and three vegetables. Mama Penn allows one to choose a dessert in the place of a veggie. In the south we love our veggies and we want our cake too. Hubby chose the German Chocolate cake and he is still raving about how good it was.

If you happen to be in Anderson, be sure to visit Mama Penn’s. She even gives you a cup of sweet tea to go.

 

 

Love that they share a Bible verse on the cup!

Do you have a favorite restaurant that serves the food you grew up loving to eat?

Airing of the Quilts with Friends

25 May

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

That’s right, my favorite event of the year happened on May 13, 2017. I am not a quilter so it may seem odd that I love this event so much. I think it is because I have childhood memories of  heavy quilts made by one of my aunts. I think it was Erma. She could sew anything and always had scraps for quilting. To me, quilts convey love and warmth.

This year two of my friends came from Florida and one from South Carolina to share the day with me.  The weather was threatening rain all morning but only produced a few sprinkles. The breezes from the weather front whipped the quilts and sent their supports swaying.

 

There were some amazing quilts on display and several organizations were raffling off some beauties. One quilting group from Georgia spent a year working on the quilt they were raffling.  My favorite was, surprise, surprise a tea pot theme. I especially liked the color scheme.

 

 

The city government building  was open and housed a texture exhibit complete with someone spinning alpaca into threads and a demonstration of an old form of hook quilting. My friends received a short lesson from the helpful artisan.

 

 

The following day husband and I with Florida friends Pam and Diana headed to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for some shopping and nature.  Of course I made a stop at the Corning Revere store in the Red Roof mall. There are several of these outlets in the area, but the one in this particular mall has a clearance area in the bottom level and I have scored some great deals there.

As we drove up US 441 through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, I was saddened to see the damage to the forests during the November fires caused by arson.

 

 

 

In Gatlinburg we discovered our hotel was literally down the street from where the fires encroached on the city. This is an overview of the city.

 

We did a motor tour of the Roaring Fork nature trail which begins near the top arrow. Much of the forest had suffered fire damage but the park service had many of the trails reopened and parking areas were full with the cars of hikers.

Of course, sampling the restaurant fare was a top priority. Along with the usual favorites of  The Old Mill and The Apple Barn, we tried out Bubba Gump. They have a yummy dippin” sauce.

 

 

On one of our drives, we had a mixup on directions and took a scenic detour.  I wasn’t sure how we got turned around, then I saw this sign in Pigeon Forge.

 

 

I guess in the mountains, north can be south and south can be north!

On Monday, I received a telephone call congratulating me on winning a gift card to one of our local stores, North Carolina Mountain Made. I was thrilled and knew instantly what I would buy.

 

 

I have been wanting this CD for ages. This man’s soft guitar strumming and picking of hymns is very similar to my father’s playing. The sound of my dad “plunking” on his guitar is the soundtrack of my childhood. I love how God listens to our hearts and delights in giving us sweet gifts.

Life is a Whirlwind

11 May

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Since we arrived in the mountains, life has been a whirlwind. We took a weekend trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains to meet up with some cousins. This bunch of cousins are the children and grandchildren of a sister my mom was particularly close to and I adored. There seems to be a generational love. On Saturday we went to an old resort named Shatley Springs for supper. There were 16 of us. Family from Winston-Salem drove up to join us. It was a two hour drive for them. When it was planned, I didn’t know that we were reviving an old family tradition. It turns out that an aunt’s family and one of these cousins would drive to Winston- Salem and then all would go to the resort to eat. It was like slipping behind the veil of time for a brief moment.

Apparently the resort’s spring waters are famous for healing properties and they allow people to take it home in jugs for free.  I drank a lot of it with my meal!
Tuesday of this week our son underwent surgery. It had been scheduled for at least six weeks. To my surprise and delight we learned that one of our breakfast buddies would be having surgery the same day and at the same hospital. We couldn’t have planned this, only God could. We sat with his wife in the waiting room, entertaining each other as the hours passed. Both of our family member’s surgeries were successful and they are on the road to healing.  I love how God provides for us.
I am looking forward to a visit with friends from Florida. This weekend Franklin holds its annual Airing of the Quilts. I have my fingers crossed that the forecast of rain will be wrong. I think there is a 50/50 chance it will be!
This is from last year.

Quilts lined street.

Matching My Mind to My Location

27 Apr

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Yesterday we loaded up the car and left Florida behind. Today we are saying hello North Carolina mountains. Both are beautiful and we are blessed more than we deserve to have precious friends and family in both places.

My first step toward settling in was a trip to the grocery this morning.  I was intent on mentally checking off the items on my list and taking advantage of the large store to get in a brisk walk. I wheeled around a corner and almost crashed into another shopper. People walk slower here, they take the time to smile and ask how you are. I realized I needed to switch my mind to match my location.

This past weekend I attended a women’s retreat at Park Avenue Baptist Church.  Old Things R New blogger, Janet Perez Eckles was the featured speaker.

Janet’s sessions were filled laughter, but with the purpose of leading us to think more deeply and to see how God equips us with strength and courage. In the days before the retreat I had been mulling a mental change of direction. I was tired of rehashing old hurts in my mind. I knew they were attacks from the enemy and I was so over the attacks.

Step back in time with me, about forty years or so. I was expecting our first child and even though I watched my food intake, I dreaded the monthly weigh in at the Obstetrician office. Being a football fan, I had heard that a good offense is the best defense, so at my next check up I took up an offensive approach. I moaned about my weight gain and was so dramatic in my distress that the doctor ended up comforting me rather than exhorting me!

At the conference I decided to go on the offense with the one who accuses. Each time an already confessed and settled episode comes to mind I am going to fling it like a flaming sword straight to heaven, but on the tip of the sword will be prayers of good  for the person.  I am changing my mind to match my eternal location.

Just One Quarter

13 Apr

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I think there is magic in the quarters used for the Aldi grocery store carts. I wouldn’t say there is enough magic to bring about world peace, but for brief seconds in time, people in the parking lot stop and smile at each other.

What brings about this spontaneous camaraderie?  The simple exchange of a quarter as the departing shopper offers their cart to someone heading into the store. Sometimes no quarter is exchanged as people decide to pay it forward. In the current climate of anger, I enjoy these simple moments of kindness inspired with just one quarter.

Photo credit OnMilwaukee.com

 

You might want to visit the blog Ten Reasons to Dig Aldi.

As Sweet as Perfume

30 Mar

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

On Monday we had the fun of an impromptu friends reunion of the members of the Park Avenue Baptist Church Young Married Sunday School class. Of course, someone had to mention that five of us were turning seventy this year! How can that be? One friend made an excellent point as we marveled over this milestone. She observed that we look much better at seventy than our parents did. We laughed and agreed. In the interest of full disclosure, I must mention that I am the baby of the group! All too soon it was time for everyone to move on and resume their busy lives, but for a brief afternoon we laughed and shared our lives. I would say it was just like the old days but I believe it was better!

Wednesday was another fun day. but it was scheduled. Lynn and I have known each other even longer than my Young Married friends.We met in the tenth grade and remained in touch throughout the years. She and her husband recently relocated to Florida and  live two hours from us. We decided to meet half way for lunch at  De Leon Springs State Park. We camped there during the child rearing years and I had been longing to revisit it and I was sure my nature loving friend would enjoy it.

The park, set on the land of an old plantation, has a unique restaurant, the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House. Pancakes are their specialty but they also serve salads and sandwiches made with homemade breads.

  Their website describes it this way:

“Each of our tables are equipped with a griddle and we bring you pitchers of homemade pancake batters (both a stone-ground mixture of five different flours and an unbleached white flour) you pour them on and flip them over right at your table.”

From their website

After our lunch we walked around the springs area then Lynn and I  settled down under a covered pavilion to catch up while the men people watched near the spring , talking as men do, solving the problems of the world.

We enjoyed both the company and the scenery. It was a beautiful day, with a gentle breeze. I look forward to visiting again.

The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9 NLT

 

 

 

Did you know that DiVoran’s first novel is set at De Leon Springs?

Sleeping-Do Not Disturb

23 Mar

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Christmas 2015 I gave my husband a life altering gift and the interesting part is that I gave it to him on a whim. Here is the story.

Our granddaughter loves drawing  and painting so each Christmas we give her some form of art supplies. I usually pick them up through out the year when they are on sale. This particular Christmas, I realized that I had more gifts for her than our grandson and we all know that wouldn’t play well. What to do…? Then I remembered that my husband had been taking “night” art classes, as in while he was asleep. Apparently, the voice tone of painter Bob Ross lulled him to sleep. So on aforementioned whim I wrapped the art supplies and put them under the tree.

Christmas morning he was quite surprised when he opened the gift, but he thanked me nicely. Fast forward to January 29, 2016. He was bored and decided to pull out the art supplies and play with them. This is the result.

I think we were both shocked. His success set him on course to actively pursue learning about painting. He watches videos while he is awake! He is also mentored by our friend, DiVoran Lites. I think he is getting better with  every painting and sometimes I am stunned when I walk past his open door and see what he is creating. I particularly like this one he painted last week. I am thrilled with his newly discovered talent. He has always wanted to be able to capture life on canvas, but never dreamed he could.

All of this led me to wonder whether our sleep and or dreams do affect our waking life. I am beyond blessed to know without a doubt that God loves me. I have mused in the past on what my parents did to instill this into my heart. Looking back, I think it came to me while I was sleeping.  As a small child, I found church service made me sleepy, so I would lay my head in someone’s lap and take a nap while the good news of God’s love and Jesus plan for salvation was spoken. Plus, my parents attended a weekly prayer service that was held in someone’s home. They called them cottage prayer meetings.There would be a lot of singing and praying and I would find an out of the way place, my favorite being under a coffee table, and fall asleep. I have vague memories of feeling the  hymns wash over me as I drifted in the half awake/half sleep state.

Science tells us that sleep time is when the body repairs itself. So it stands to reason it can also be a time when our brain carries out its unique functions. Sleep matters and so does what we listen to while we sleep!

Just Twelve Items

2 Mar

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Just twelve items per family. That is all our church food pantry is able to give to families in need and it breaks my heart. And yet, the women and men who come are so darn appreciative of just twelve items. One woman was thrilled to get a dozen eggs. She was wanting to make her family a caramel cake. I asked if she had a recipe for it and she pointed to her head. “It’s all up there, if i can remember it, I haven’t made it in so long.” Eggs are a new addition since I worked in the food pantry last winter and they seem to be a big success.  The face of a child lit up, when he saw the eggs. “We get real eggs!”

My job this week was to greet people, assist them in choosing their items by answering questions, then bagging the groceries up and offering help to their car. I was fascinated watching them make their choices. Some knew exactly what they needed, while others browsed. I enjoyed the woman who was planning meals as she put items on the table. She exceeded the limit on soup, but there was no way I could bring myself to disrupt her plans. Imagine planning your meals for the week around just twelve items.

One of our regular ladies brought someone new. As she was showing her around, she placed an arm on her friend’s shoulder and said, “this is not food from the government, this is food from the people.”  We are a small church and went three years without a permanent pastor and many members left. Last December our food pantry ran out of money and our shelves were bare. We are working hard to connect with business in the community to help us serve our neighbors. Another option is asking friends to consider setting up a food donation box in their workplace. It may not seem like much, but just twelve items make a difference in someone’s life.

I don’t take pictures at the food pantry so I decided to share one of DiVoran’s lovely paintings.

mockingbird

Fishing Therapy Part 2

16 Feb

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Because my brain begins racing as soon as I wake up, I have asked God to give me a scripture or song to start my day in a grateful mindset. Last Thursday morning I was given the word joy. My first thought was oh boy, what will I face today that I need to count it as joy.

 

We had planned to try out the fishing at Port Canaveral but I wasnt feeling  energetic so we changed our fishing plans and went back  to the park close to home.

A beautiful family from Ecuador stopped by to talk and we enjoyed communicating with my high school Spanish and his pretty good English. Then they went to have lunch under the pavilion.

 

boatramp-pavillion

 

A few minutes later, the little boy around 4 yrs old and his sister around 8 came running up to me with big smiles. The little guy had a fresh chocolate covered glazed donut in his hand for me. God’s joy gift can come in many forms, today it was in smiles and my favorite donut!

This fishing trip resulted in actually catching some fish. I caught a whiting, which is my favorite for eating, a silver trout and my husband caught a speckled trout. We didn’t keep them as they were too small, but it was fun catching them. Even though we tried to be gentle, the trout after swimming away, showed up floating on the water, I wanted to believe it was resting  and I was upset when the gulls tried to make it their lunch.

The fishing reel I use is a bait caster and over twenty years old. It is having some problems. I think I am going to go back to my favorite reel for fishing in the river, a Zebco 33. It’s kind of like having a reunion with one’s first love.

Something scary did happen during our outing. I had placed my phone in the drink holder of my bag chair so I could listen to the radio. It was very windy and when I stood to reel in my line, a gust blew my chair over and my phone went flying towards the water. My heart sank. Then I realized I could faintly hear my phone and when I looked over the side, I saw my phone lying on a boulder. My husband went down on the rocks and retrieved it. I feared the screen would be broken but it was fine. I thanked God for this and added another item to my lessons learned list.

This week we won’t have a chance to fish. I will miss it.

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