Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Brain Trust

I have been a little slow in discovering the world of blogging.  Like CDs and DVDs, I thought this was just a fad and nothing was happening here that I would find interesting.  I was wrong, again.  Now I'm having to set the kitchen timer to remind myself to get busy in the real world and stop blogging - which for me is a bit of writing about my adventures and lots of reading about your adventures. 

My husband asked me if my blog was all real or was it more like that Christmas movie I sometimes make him watch.  Have you seen "Christmas in Connecticut" from 1945 - starring Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan?

Photo from http://www.imdb.com/media/rm4263680256/tt0037595

It's the house and how it's decorated, and the clothes Ms. Stanwyck wears, that capture my imagination, but the storyline is as current as today.  Someone making a living on pictures and stories of a beautiful, but imaginary, life.

I assured my husband my blog is real, he even gets a copy emailed to him so he can follow along.  I also explained to him that some of the blogs I follow have inspired me to change things in our home  (guest room coming along nicely, plus organizing and painting the garage, and I now do a much better job of dusting - just in case I decide to take a picture or two around the house). 

To all of you telling real life stories, sharing your adventures with me (and, my favorite, commenting on my blog and emailing me) I just want to say 'THANK YOU.'   You give me a taste of life in other parts of the world, make me feel like we're all in this together, and remind me that life is what you make it.  Some of you make life wonderful with stories and pictures, some of you are teaching me something every time I visit your site, and some of you are, let's be honest, nothing but house porn.  (I discussed my slight addiction to house porn on June 14, I may have to expand my definition to include garden porn.)

I recently discovered a blog that could change my life (well, it might cause me to stop cleaning altogether and just stare at beautiful houses all day long).  I've even gone so far as to add her button (Hooked on Houses) to my blog.  If you already know about this site be proud of me, I found it on my own when I was looking for a picture of one the houses from the movie "The Holiday."  Once you've looked at her wonderful site - with pictures of beautiful houses, houses currently for sale, and houses from movies and TV - please visit with me again and tell me what you think. 


P.S.  Please note:  I received no compensation for sharing this information with you, I just like to look at houses.  Also, I couldn't figure out how to put her blog in the "blogs I follow" section - so the button seemed the best way for me to keep up with another favorite.  Face it, I know enough about computers and blogging to be dangerous - but only to myself (I'll be careful).  I've learned so much from you, but I still have a lot to learn.  Thanks for stopping by.   

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Losing My Marble

"Imagine how it would feel to be surrounded only by things you use and love."                      Karen Kingston

The blogging world can be the most beautiful place.  Here houses are always warm and inviting, gardens are blooming, children and pets are clean, well groomed and have perfect manners...  

Looking for its 'best' side...

Welcome to my home.  The alligator head was the only souvenir my husband wanted from New Orleans.  (I blame the History Channel television show "SWAMP PEOPLE.")

Me?   I wanted this. 

Compared to some of the other stuff in this shop, it was a very simple fireplace mantel.

It must have called to me while I was walking down the street. I popped into a little light shop with lots of chandeliers, lots and lots of chandeliers (I couldn't resist saying to the owner, "So it looks like everyone is going with ceiling fans this year."). I asked if I could take pictures, he said, "Sure." I walked through the store and suddenly, from across the well lit room, I saw this beauty.

The more I looked at it, the more I liked it.

"Oh, there you are." I heard myself say.   Right out loud.  It didn't answer. There was no need for words. I was enchanted. Amazed. And maybe slightly giddy.  My pictures may not catch all the glory, but trust me, it was wonderful. I liked it just the way it was and no amount of faux finish could ever make me want less than the real thing. 

I've never thought about buying a marble fireplace mantel before.  We have a nice, little wooden mantel shelf above our fireplace and I have thought about looking for a more substantial (maybe even beautiful) wooden mantel, kind of like this with the sides and a some carving, but this....  I just sort of fell in love with this amazing work of art. 

The details were amazing, I'm using my camera on this (not my flip phone) hope you can see how beautiful it is.

After a few minutes I realized I was a little angry that someone would have ever taken this out of the home it was made for.  Was it made especially for someone?  Was it original to the area or had it come from another part of the world?  I just kept staring.  At some point I found myself running my fingers along the edges (it was in great shape), the carving was smooth and it was cool to the touch.  I tried to imagine how many hours (days, years...) it had taken to create. 

(sound effects please:  TIRES COMING TO A SCREECHING HALT) 
I finally looked at the price tag and realized we couldn't be together on this day, I would have to leave my discovery here.  I left the shop a better person, and I left New Orleans still married to the sweet guy who likes alligator heads. 

After a fairly lengthy goodbye, I somehow left the mantel.  Maybe someday we'll meet again...
Have you ever been surprised by your reaction to a thing - especially a thing that was so beautiful it took your breath away? 

I have to leave my blog now to go visit Colorado Lady's Vintage Thingie Thursday http://coloradolady.blogspot.com/ .  I'm a genius!  I just added a button from Suzanne's blog.  Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Cowboy and His Blankie

I believe we are made in God's image and inside each of us is the desire to create. 

A Cowboy and His Blankie, it's a beautiful thing...

As you can see, my baby quilt is really a Toddler Quilt. They usually turn out that way because I am a slow quilter and I like to match the quilt fabric to the baby's family.  The parents and, sometimes grandparents, are my inspiration. I just go with my happy memories, plan, sort through fabric I already have, buy fabric that I want, and (eventually) create a quilt.  

X marks the spot.

For this quilt my inspiration came from a Dad in the Air Force and a Mom who loves her hometown of Fort Worth, Texas. So airplanes and cowboys were my theme. There are a few cowgirls on this quilt, lots of horses and stars, and I even threw in some yellow fabric with flowers on it to remind Mom & Dad of their last vacation in Hawaii a few months before baby arrived.

Cowboys and Airplanes

I also believe God is generous and that we will only be happy when we are generous. Giving a quilt takes time, imagination, money, the willingness to work, the desire to complete a project -- when we create and then turn around and give away our creation we are really giving ourselves. Whether our creation is a meal, a garden, a home or a wonderful story we share with friends, you and I give a bit of ourselves and we are better for it. 

With my giving of this quilt I got hugs and thanks and a chance to see the cute smile of an 18 month old who had no clue what was going on. He did seem a bit fascinated that someone had left a blanket on the ground.   He did notice a cowboy - he called it a dog.

I'm still learning to machine quilt, it's much faster than the hand quilting I love, but for a quilt that will be washed often I think machine quilting is the way to go. 

It feels wonderful to finish a project.  Now, what's next on my list?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

For the Birds

I have only seen the hummingbirds a few times in the garden this summer, too bad because I got them such a cute feeder. 

I like the old bottle look.

If you are looking for something new to pray for consider praying that Texas will get rain - a nice, slow, long rain.  We traveled through the middle of the state to the little town of College Station, Texas, this week. (Baby back at school, we are empty nesters again.)  Once you leave the Metroplex (Dallas-Fort Worth area) you usually see acres of cotton, corn, and sorghum crops.  Then along State Highway 6 you can see crops and cattle and wild flowers. Instead of seeing beautiful wild flowers and the like we just saw overgrazed pastures and dust.  Almost all the creeks were dry, things look are bad. 

I'm praying for the weather to change and rain to come replenish the earth.  I'm also quilting today, all day, I am so ready to be finished with that baby quilt. There are so many other things I've got going, I have to complete this project so I can move on.  Hope you have a great day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Playing 'Possum

It rained on Saturday. 
Wind, thunder, lightning, and finally,
Thank You, God!

We had almost a quarter of an inch of rain in our rain gauge.  It's a start, I'll take all I can get.  Later on in the day, in my orange Home Depot bucket (the one I use to catch rainwater) I found a quarter of an inch of rain and a small opossum ('possum - as they are known in my world). 

This is his sweet face, he snarled and hissed at me when I first discovered him. 
Maybe he decided to play nice when I left him to get the camera. 

I find myself reading more and more gardening blogs, it makes me happy to know that somewhere in the world life goes on and not everyone is living in excessive heat and extreme drought conditions.  Finding a baby anything is special these days because with the heat and dry weather we haven't had as many birds at the feeders and bird baths.  Fewer squirrels, too. It was good to see new life.  Even if he did have a "What is that smell?" smell about him.

He also tried to hide so I could not see him, but he had no place to go.
I wanted to help him even though he was trying to scare me so I went to ask my husband to come and take a look at our visitor (I guess I was thinking one native Texan would know what another native Texan needs?).  I also grabbed my camera and a broom (my weapon of choice - this was a wild animal).  My husband took one look at the poor little thing and assured me it would be okay, we just needed to help it out.  He took his rake and gently tipped over the bucket. Right about now I realized this could be trouble, my husband can run faster than me, if the 'possum decides to attack us, I'm done for.
My husband used a garden rake to tip over the bucket and it was dead! 

The second the bucket was on its side the little 'possum took a couple of steps forward and collapsed - eyes wide open.  I just knew that we had frightened it to death.  I was also ready to cry, how could this happen?  It was a small rake, my husband had gently tipped over the bucket.  (Please note:  I am still standing behind him for protection.)  He took a step towards the poor little creature and put the rake down on the ground just a few inches from its nose and (a Miracle) the little 'possum got up, shook itself off and crawled back into the bucket. 
I now understand the expression "playing 'possum.'

The joke was on me. I was sure we had killed him.  Nope, he was alive and well and slightly annoyed with us.   
As we walked away, he left the shelter of the bucket and went on his way.
If  Saturday's tricky visitor had been human I probably would have offered it a drink - Dirty Martini comes to mind. 

Here's my recipe: 

2 oz. Vodka
1 Tablespoon Dry Vermouth
2 Tablespoons juice from Martini Olives

Pour everything into a cocktail shaker, add as much ice as you can and still close lid.  Shake until top of shaker looks frosty.  Pour into chilled glass, add an olive or two. 


Repeat as necessary. 

Happy Tuesday.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Something New

I am saving the planet.  Drop by drop.  Well, actually I'm helping my plants.  I keep a blue Rubbermaid gallon pitcher under the kitchen sink.  When I have 'extra' water I dump it in.   This is what I use to water my container plants.  (I also use water from the garden hose - face it, it has been extremely hot this summer and my garden has needed all the water I can give it.)  I thought I was the most clever person around until I discovered other folks do this, too.  My mom reminded me that she has done this and even my grandmothers did it (I probably learned from them and just forgot who to give the credit to - sorry!) Looks like we're all saving the planet.  Good, good...

Do you know about Dream Notebooks?  Not the list of things you've dreamed about each night, I'm sure those are wonderful in their own way - many of my own dreams involve me not having my parking lot ticket and being stuck in the garage tower... go figure.  I'm talking about keeping a list of things you want to do (aka Bucket List) or just a place to keep pictures of things you would like to have in your life or just pictures you find beautiful or inspiring.  Over the years I have had several drawing pads that I've added my sketches and drawings, pictures from magazines (no, I'm not the one taking the recipes out of the magazines in waiting rooms) or things I've seen on the Internet.  It has been a way for me to keep up with things I like and not have them scattered all over the place.  A few years ago I saw the movie "The Secret" and one of the segments was about a man and his Dream Board, similar to my Dream Notebook/drawing pad idea, with all his favorite pictures on it, and I realized people know about that....  so ....

Do you know about PINTEREST?  It's my new toy (yes, my friend, Patti, told me about it - I didn't make this up and I already accept that other people know about it).  It's so clever - I've added their 'follow me' thingy on to my blog, so you can see some of the things that I like.  But, and this is the cool part - you can have a page of your own.  What is it?  Is there someone out there who doesn't know about this?  I feel so clever again.  You know how you'll see something on the Internet and say, "I should show this to So & So?"  Or maybe you've seen stuff you like and would like to have a picture of it (anything!  Your next haircut, the perfect pair of boots, something you're searching antique shops for - your name it) now you have a place to keep all those pictures and reminders and when you add it to your Pinterest boards your friends can see the wonderful things you like and so on.  I've had it less than two weeks so there's not tons of stuff on my boards.  Also, my account is set up to receive emails from friends who follow, this week I saw something someone posted that she loved and I had one!  I called her up and said "Come get it."  And she did.  Who's the clever girl now?  Check them out, let me know what you think.  Please follow their rules - it is their site - and have fun.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Sweet Smell of Home

When we arrived home we joked that the house smelled like the Previous Owners were back.  This is not a bad smell, just the smell of the house when we walked through back in the summer of 2005.  There were also dust bunnies gathering around my ankles in hope of protection from the large spider webs that have given the place an "Adams Family" / early Halloween feeling - but housework and housework stories are for another day.

This morning I'm just enjoying being in my house.  Our home.  Have you noticed that part of what makes houses homes is their unique perfume, odor, fragrance?  We had only been home long enough to shower and start a load of clothes when I noticed the Previous Owners had left and once again I had the feeling that I was in my home. 

Our house fragrance varies slightly from day to day.  These days it is a blend of cinnamon, ginger (I've discovered fresh grated ginger and use it whenever I can), garlic - fresh & powdered (we're not snobs), coffee, Tide, charcoal smoke (from the wonderful grilling/barbecuing my husband is almost famous for), cookies (yesterday I made Oatmeal Raisin) and roses (fresh cut and my favorite hand lotion).

Our china hutch has the most comforting aroma.  My husband inherited it from his parents and when you open up the top and lean in a bit you can smell their home.  It's amazing, we have had it since 1993, this is the fourth house it's lived in with us (including three years in Germany) and still I think of them when I open those doors.

We sometimes have weeks of 'new paint smell' floating around the place. We used to have scented candles but have decided unscented candles work best for us (I still keep a few small scented candles on hand just in case home isn't as lovely as I want it to be, usually vanilla or lavender).  When my children were young there was that wet puppy smell they seem to get on warm afternoons - happy sigh.  Note to moms with young children:  The memory is probably better than the real thing.  Also, keep smelling your babies' hair, trust me. 

I'm pretty sure some of my enjoyment of antique malls and shops is their smell.  The same thing with BBQ joints, WhatABurgers, Pizza Huts and (my all time favorite) florist shops - isn't that the most wonderful smell?! 

What fragrance memories are you making?  What does your home smell like today? 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Vacation Anyone?

I never travel without my diary.  One should always have something sensational to read....  Oscar Wilde 

What does this month hold for you?  For me, travel is in my present and my future.  Not just any travel, this week I'm in New Orleans.  It's my first visit to this beautiful, dirty, charming city. 

Window Boxes

Even the down spouts are pretty. 

 I'm a big fan of functional art.

Wonder what it's like to live above the shop...

Wonder who cleans up the fertilizer...

I have this thing for doors, even doors that are under construction. There was a huge red poppy painted on the inside wall.  This looked like the beginning of a beautiful shop.

Bloom (grow) where you are planted.

I've walked around the French Quarters visiting so many wonderful shops.  Cooking and food stores, a dress shop or two, antique, art and jewelry shops have entertained me for the last few days.  And I must confess a few tourist trap/junk shops - and a nearby Walgreens - we needed Tums (way too much fried food).

Antiques de Provence is a shop I saw online and hoped someday to visit.  I got my chance this week and loved it.  The shop is great, a little above my price range, but just the chance to see these beautiful pieces made for a fun afternoon.  There were several rooms to explore and a garden (courtyard) area.

This lamp was for sale for almost $900, it was wooden and the paint finish looked more gold than silver, all the colors were kind of muddled with a bit of wood showing through here and there. Funny thing - it reminds me of a lamp I have at home, simple, wooden and painted silver for a "Star Wars" bedroom.

I enjoyed these two room, especially the matching chandeliers.

My photos are o.k., check out their website to see how beautiful everything is.  http://www.antiquesdeprovencellc.com/Home/tabid/36/Default.aspx

My husband is here on business so at night we've done a little sight seeing and had some great meals - lots of seafood.  A simple dessert of coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde was one of our favorite adventures. 

Delicious and hot (I can't believe this is what we had on such a hot night), the atmosphere was friendly - noisy, all kinds of people, laughter and music (a group of young men trying to become a street band).  A couple of days later I bought the beignet mix and a tin of coffee, someday at home we're going to try and recreate our adventure - when the weather is much cooler.

My favorite lunch was Caesar salad with Blackened Shrimp - it was so good and the Bloody Mary I had with it might have lived up to the restaurant's claim of "Best Bloody Marys in Town."

I found a Christmas ornament (I like to bring home an ornament from our trips and vacations) and a few Christmas gifts. 

It has been a nice break.  The afternoons have been very hot so I have had a chance to just sit and read.  It's been great fun not having to do housework.  Yes, the garden, garage, and guest room await my return.  I'll get to them, for now it is summer and we are on vacation - well, I am on vacation.  Life is good.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Back to the Garden - Weeding

Weeding is the worst of all chores in the garden. It's also one of the most important. I put this off for so long (I live in hope that my gardens will become self-cleaning). When I got busy doing it instead of just wishing it was done, clean up was much faster than I thought it would be. 

I took this picture a few days before I started work and put it on my computer as my background so I would remember I had a bit of weeding to do. 

Thursday morning I spent less than 90 minutes weeding, putting in soil amendments / plant food, putting down newspaper to hold in the water and keep out the weeds, and scattering wood mulch across the top of everything to make it beautiful (this also helps keep out the weeds and keep in the water).   I started at 7:00, I was trying to work while the temps were only in the 80's (around here that's just a few precious minutes in the morning). Also, I was trying to avoid a sunburn - that takes a bit of work - it seems like the sun is always out.

I told you about the book LASAGNA GARDENING by Patricia Lanza.  This is one of the benefits of putting down newspaper in your garden, it keeps the weeds from really taking hold. 

I started pulling the weeds with my hands (wear gloves!) and they came out very easily.  I grabbed my old fork hoe and it made the job go even faster. 

After a bit of weeding I was ready to add the good stuff (soil amendments).   It was going so fast I almost forgot to take pictures. 

As I put down the sections of newspaper I spray them with water, this keeps them from flying away. 

When I was done I was careful not to take any photos of me. I was dirty, sweaty, hot and tired. And proud. I have just started a garden revival.   

Yes, the stone and the fossil were there all the time - just hidden by all the weeds.  I am so amazed at how quickly I cleaned up this area of my garden.  Sure, I've got lots more to do, but that's one of the things about a garden  - it needs you as much as you need it.