Winner of the Cottage Charm Giveaway + 2 RUNNERS UP!

Well girls, the time is here!
The time is now!

for stopping by my home!
I am so very blessed by all the sweet comments!
I tried as hard as I could to come around and say hello to you all,
but I am still visiting you all.
I was overwhelmed by y'all's response to this little birdcage!


(the same set of cards that are in the winner's giveaway):

So, without further adieu,

the winning home maker 


WHO is #24?

Who has been crowned the winner?

Kim Alexander.
Hi, Kim!

Who said: 

"Hi Leslie, 
I wanna follow, HA! 
I need to hang out more w/you girls 
for some domesticated HELP !"


The first runner up is:

Crystal from 

The second runner up is:

Stephanie from
Hi, Stephanie!
(I love her name, as it happens to be my sister's name, too)!


This was so fun for me 
to get to see all your lovely faces here
and get to know you special ladies!


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Sunday Serenity - Happy Memorial Day!

A few years ago, my daughter, Miss S, and I 
found an old photograph album full of about 200 postcards 
from 1901 -1910 at the Salvation Army.
I paid $6.00 for it!!
I scanned some of the Patriotic ones to share with you.

Our family thanks our brothers and sisters 
who have served and are serving America 
this land that we dearly love.
We pray that you would be protected, as you protect us,
ask that our Lord would hold you in His loving hands, 
and know that we wouldn't have the blessings that we do, 
if it weren't for you.

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life.

Just make sure that you don't use this freedom 
as an excuse to do whatever you want to do 
and destroy your freedom. 

Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; 
that's how freedom grows.  

For everything we know about God's Word 
is summed up in a single sentence: 
Love others as you love yourself. 

That's an act of true freedom.
Galatians 5:13-14


I am announcing the winner of the 
Cottage Charm Giveaway
Memorial Day night.

I also have made two extra sets of these,
to give to two RUNNERS UP:

The Art Of French Cooking- Week 6 -Ratatouille

This week, Miss S actually made Ratatouille,
while I was watching the movie.
Your eyes are fine--
that's just a glare down the center of our TV screen.

[Eggplant Casserole--with tomatoes, onions, peppers and zucchini]

Ratatouille perfumes the kitchen with the essence of Provence and is certainly one of the great Mediterranean dishes. As it is strongly flavored, it is best when it accompanies plain roast or broiled beef or lamb, or plain roast, broiled, or sauteed chicken. Equally good hot or cold, it also makes a fine accompaniment to cold meats, or may be served as a cold hors d'oeuvre.

A really good ratatouille is not one of the quicker dishes to make, as each element is cooked separately before it is arranged in the casserole to partake of a brief communal simmer. This recipe is the only one we know of which produces a ratatouille in which each vegetable retains its own shape and character. Happily, a ratatouille may be cooked completely the day before it is to be served, and it seems to gain in flavor when reheated.

  • 1 lb. eggplant
  • 1 lb. zucchini
  • A 3 quart mixing bowl
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 10-12-inch skillet
  • 4 TBSP. Olive oil, more if needed
  • 1/2 lb. (about 1 1/2 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
  • 2 (about 1 cup) sliced green bell peppers
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced
  • 2 1/2 quart oven-proof casserole dish with lid
  • 3 TBSP minced parsley

Peel eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8" thick/3" long/1" wide.
Slice ends off zucchini and cut zucchini into slices 
the same size as eggplant.
Place vegetables into bowl and toss with salt.
Let stand 30 minutes. Drain and dry slices.

One layer at a time, saute' the eggplant, then zucchini in hot oil 
for one minute on each side to brown lightly. 
Remove to a side dish.

In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers, 
slowly for 10 minutes, until tender, not browned. 
Stir in garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

To peel tomatoes, hold tomatoes in boiling water for 10 seconds.

Tomato skin loosens,

and is peeled off easily.

Set oven to 450 degrees.
Cut peeled tomatoes in half crosswise, not through the stem.
Squeeze each half gently to extract the seeds and juices.

Slice tomato pulp into 3/8" strips, lay them over the onions/peppers. 
Cover skillet and cook over low for 5 minutes.
Uncover and raise heat and boil until juice has almost entirely evaporated.

Layer amounts in thirds into the casserole dish: 
tomato mixture
Repeat twice more, top with parsley.

Cover casserole, and bake for 15 minutes.
Set aside, uncovered until ready to serve,
or let cool, refrigerate and serve cold.


We had high expectations from this dish.

After all, a movie had been named after it!

We anticipated tasting this famous Provence fare.

Miss S prepared this dish, 
and it took her almost the whole length of the movie to make.
So, we figured, with something that took this long,
it was bound to be good.

The scents of onion, garlic and parsley wafted throughout our home,
our tummies growled and our mouths watered.
We could NOT wait till it came out of the oven.

We all sat down, 
placed our hands together and gave thanks,
placed our napkins on our laps,
placed a forkful of French happiness to our lips.

We were not happy.
In fact, we were disappointed.
The recipe had been followed exactly, so we know it wasn't Miss S' fault.

This dish was boring, it tasted like Fajita veggies that someone 
forgot to put the cumin and chicken in.

Maybe we are too Americanized (what else would we be, right)?
But we decided that we wouldn't make this ever again.
I am sorry if I am hurting any of my European home maker friends' feelings,
especially if you love the dish!

We are veggie lovers,
but maybe not this combination of veggies.

We give this:

out of

* * * * *

Till next Saturday,
Bon Appetit, y'all!


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Bargain Blooms and Dirt Cheap Landscaping

In the Spring, at the end of the day, one should smell like dirt.

And I do.

I have been outside as much as I can enjoying this 
gorgeous South Carolina weather (not too hot, not too cold).

I thought you might like to see how a one-income,
no-debt, cheapskate household gets their plants for practically nothing.

Wanna know how?

We get up at 3 A.M., don coal miner's caps and prowl the cul-de-sac,
crouching in the grass and hiding in the shadows.

Then we dig the plants out of the neighbor's yard while they are sleeping.

Ingenius, no?

Well, okay, we don't do that, and you shouldn't either.

What we actually do is wait till plants and their paraphernalia
go on sale or buy stuff at yard sales.

We go to the back of the Lowe's Garden Department
and get out plants off the slightly overcooked or
somehow overlooked palettes.
We even buy plants at yard sales.

Top row: White Geraniums, 1.25 quart, $1.00 each
Middle row: Blue Wave Petunias, 1.25 quart, $1.00 each
Bottom row: Red Geraniums, Pint, $ .60 each

Sometimes, by the time we rescue a plant, 
it is no longer blooming (but will).

I am picky about the colors that go in our yard.

We only take in rejects that bloom yellow, red, white or blue.

How I tell what color it is, is by searching for the dead blooms
usually lying on a leaf or two.
Sometimes the tag will tell you, too,
but sometimes the tag shows the whole variety of colors that this plant comes in,
not the particular color you want.

If I cannot tell what color the flower is, I don't buy it.

Maybe you are not as persnickety picky as I am 
and it you love all the colors.

You'll get done shopping more quickly than I do.

We also buy plants that, even though they are annuals,
will survive our hot SC summers without a lot of attention.

Geraniums and Lobelia, in the basket below,
(Originally $19.99, I paid $5.00)
are good choices.

(In the upper right corner of the picture you can see dead leaves on a Mandevilla Vine that was adopted.
The dead portion was cut off and it thrives, and you'll see it further down in this post).

Impatiens are also good choices that love the shade and heat, and multiply like crazy.
(I paid full price for these-- $1.87 for a 6 pack of annuals).

Other plants in our yard--that can take the heat are Miniature Japanese Holly bushes
I got 8 of these for $2.00 each.

This is one of my favorite blooming vines in our yard, the Jackman Clematis.

Every year, it tells us when Spring is here.
One time price of around $8.00. So far, eight years of blooms.
($1.00 a year!)

Another garden joy is the Nikko Blue Hydrangea.
I got this as a birthday present, so it was free.
Another way to get cheap blooms is ask for plants for presents.

These Indian Hawthorn Shrubs (the middle one looks like a bite is taken out of it)
were $1.00 each a few years ago.
There are 6 altogether, lining the side of our house.
They were 8 feet tall last week, until I pruned them.
When I bought them they had been on life-support.

This hummingbird favorite, Black and Blue Salvia, is stunning and very hard to get rid of, 
so plant it where it has plenty of space.

We bought three small plants ($5.00 each) 3 years ago. 
We cut it back to the ground in the Fall.
Yet it grows to about 4 feet tall by 8 feet in diameter each year.

English Lavender.
Is there a prettier name for a flower?
This perennial smells heavenly, and makes a beautiful ground cover and bouquet.
I dry it and crush it and use it to scent drawers.
Miss S (my college girl) wants to cook/bake with it sometime before this summer is over.
I have it several places in the yard and got the plants for around $1.50 each, as I recall.

Stella D'Oro Day Lily.
Hearty, lively, beautiful.
These reproduce. Divide these to make more plants.

Threadleaf Coreopsis.
Wispy, whimsical and wild.

These were the BIGGEST bargain of all.
Instead of a fence, we spent $185.00 and
bought 24 of these Thuja Green Giant Trees in 2002.
They were two feet tall.
Miss A on the left and Miss S on the right on planting day.

These are now about 20 feet tall!

And of course, the least expensive way to have plants: seeds.
Our organic veggie and herb gardens as of today.

These railing planters (with coconut liners included) were $3.00 on clearance at Wal-Mart last Fall.
I bought 4 of them.

I got a set of 5 of these faux clay pots at a yard sale for $5.00!!
The previously over-baked Mandevilla (minus the dead leaves) 
now lives in one of them.

So, these are just a few ideas from my own yard
on how to save money on making your yard come to life.

It's Spring.
Will you smell like dirt at the end of the day?

How do you save money on flowers and plants?


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