Saturday, June 30, 2007

Woke Up This Mornin', I Was Feelin' Fine...

I don't usually wake up early on a Saturday morning and begin to sew right off. Nope. Not me. I'm the "stay-in-your-pjs" kind of gal. Wile away the hours reading, playing sudoku, preparing a Sunday School lesson, watch home improvement television. But sew? That is what I do Monday through Friday.
Except this morning. I have been making aprons and bags and market sacks for days. Nothing for me, really. And I was itching to make some clothes.
I've had a few pieces of fabric that have been crying out to be made into something cute. It's absolutely darling, all pink and brown and fun. I do not usually step into the land of fun very often. I never think of myself as being able to wear the "cute" things. My adventurous side doesn't come out to play enough.
But, the idea that has been rolling around in my brain came bursting forth and I secluded myself in the craft room. (No, today it is the Sewing Room.) I made this:


Cute, huh? I love it. Simple, easy to wear, and just fun enough to make me love it to bits. All the strips have felled seams. They took forever to do but I'm very glad I took the time to do them. An easy-peasy drawstring waist , a turned hem and- Voila! A skirt! For me.
Saturday mornings will never be the same!

Friday, June 29, 2007

So Nice to Meet You


I had the pleasure today of meeting Dawn (The Feathered Nest) at her darling shop in McDonough- The Plum Tree. I brought my mother with me. I had asked my dad to come with us, but when I told him that Dawn had seen his picture here and she thought he had "mesmerizing" eyes, he bowed out- so as not to disappoint her. (All said with a rather sweet smile and slightly flushed cheeks.) Awwwww.
These are a few of the things I purchased there-

A rusty wire cloche with a darling nested topper to cover my shells.

A few "instant ancestors" that will find their way into some project or another.
And a darling pin bag from the 40's for the laundry. (Sorry you have to crane your necks to see it.)
Her shop is absolutely chock-full of treasures, each one more wonderful than the next. And I had the privilege of seeing her new art piece up close and personal. I think it is even more beautiful in real life. My mom and I drooled our way through, trying to have some self-control. I could have brought the whole shop home with me. ;) Darn, I hated that I had an old iron bed and a rather rustic "potty chair"* in the back of the truck. There was a door that would have looked perfect in my family room.
If you ever are in our neck of the woods, be sure to pop in and visit The Plum Tree and the sweet Dawn! You'll be glad you did.

*- My darling husband called to inform me that up the road was a yard sale that looked like it had a bunch of "old stuff" sitting under a tree. He had to know I would head right over! The minute I saw that chair I knew I had to have it- already outfitted with a hole for a pot of flowers, who could pass it up? It will go in the garden, with a blue enamel pot underneath, planted with yellow flowers. ;) The iron bed will go on the back porch, fitted with a cot mattress and provide a lovely reading/resting spot for the family.
I just love "old stuff!"
Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gardenias in the Garden

Creamy white, soft petals unfolding.

Scenting the air with deliciousness.
They bring memories of my grandmother.
The one that taught me that the things of
my imagination could become realities.
She knew I would need that piece of
information as I grew older.
She knew that it would help
propel me to challenge myself.
She knew, because she had done the same.
This remarkable woman who owned a dress shop,
a restaurant, started a Christmas parade,
was a milliner and a hairdresser.
She never thought that she couldn't do something,
she just did it. And did it well.
So I grow gardenias in my garden,
to remind me of her.
Creamy white and sweetly scented blossoms,
they are like the hugs I remember.
And miss.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What's All the Buzz?

Sitting out in the garden the other day, under the roar of the planes flying overhead, I could hear the steady hum of bumble bees. Dozens of them, busily flying from blossom to blossom collecting pollen. How cute are they?


I found myself entranced by the seemingly random way in which they went about their chores. I sat for an hour watching as these tiny bodies started at one end of a blossom and danced their way to the other. So sweet.
Each one of them developed mighty yellow thighs, filled with the fruit of their labors. They were absolutely relentless in their work. Flitting from flower, to flower, to flower, making sure that no tiny speck was left uncollected.
I found myself wishing that I could bottle their energy and then eek it out sparingly during the week. In proportion, I would probably get my house cleaned and tidy in about fifteen minutes.
The thought crossed my mind to follow them home. But, an encounter with one of their early ancestors as a young girl prevented me from doing so. We had a large raspberry patch in one of the fields at the house I grew up in. Picture a little girl of seven, moving from a small house in a small neighborhood, to a two-story Colonial with seven acres of land. Everything filled me with awe and wonder. It was a magical place. The first week there was spent investigating every nook and cranny I could find.
My mother took us out to pick raspberries early one evening. There were so many- fat and juicy, rosy in color, waiting to be picked. We were sharing this time with a few hungry birds and quite a lot of rather industrious bees.
All went well, my bucket was filling quickly, and I was happily popping a few into my mouth every now and then. All of a sudden.............OUCH!! Apparently I had popped in a raspberry that already had been chosen by one of the little buzzers and he (I'm sure it was a he) in response planted his little stinger right into my bottom lip.
Running screaming to the house, my dad came out and burst out laughing. My lip, it seemed, was sticking out so far that I could have lined up raspberries on it with no chance of them falling off. Stupid bee.
My only consolation was in discovering that the bee would die.
I don't pick raspberries when I see bees anymore. In fact, I keep a very healthy distance between me and them now.
It was a surprise that I ventured to take a picture or two of them in the garden that day. But I am glad I did. Until that last one changed direction and began heading for me.
It takes exactly 4.2 seconds to get into my house from the back. Trust me.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Well, I Feel Special.

My birthday was last week. I celebrated the twentieth anniversary of my twenty-ninth birthday on the 16th. I'll wait while you figure that out. :) For weeks my children asked me what it was I wanted for my gift.
"I don't know. You know what I like- just pick something."
"No. What do you want?"
It's not my favorite thing, creating a list of things I "want." I would much rather someone take the time and thought to look at something and say, "Gee, I bet Mom would like that!" I think I live in a dream world.
So, with the ever-mounting pressure from my children, I set out to find something, anything, that I would like for my birthday.
Trips to stores were laced with stress as I tried to look at things with their eyes, and with their wallets. One does not want to be too greedy, does one? Aargh! The difficulty of this whole choose-what-you-want method was wearing me down. That is, until I found "IT."
"IT" turned out to be the most adorable wallpaper ever. Cath Kidston wallpaper. From England. Chintz Floral White wallpaper, with small, pinky roses and tiny blue flowers to be exact. Just so cute. And perfect for my newly redecorated craft room.

They wanted me to choose and I did. Knowing that there would be no way possible I would get that from them, I still printed off the information and left it by the computer.
My birthday came and I received lovely cards and wishes from my family. My husband took me out for a day of yard sales (with the promise that he would definitely not complain) and a trip to the Green Market. Dinner out with friends followed. And I was perfectly content.
Until this past Friday. At my doorstep, waiting for my arrival home, was a package. Two long tubes held together with tape that said "Cath Kidston." A bright orange customs sticker declared that it was A-OK to come to my house.
I was much more than content- I was ecstatic!! Oh my goodness! They did it! Well, do I have the kindest, most wonderful children or what?
I have been told by each of them that I am really just the strangest, off-the-wall, wierdest mom ever.
"Who picks wallpaper for their birthday? Honestly!" (But they bought it, didn't they?)
Well, I picked wallpaper for my birthday. And I'm glad I did. My craft room is going to be totally cute, inspirational and a happy place to be.
Here it is, in all it's adorableness:



As soon as I get it on the walls, I will take a picture to share. It might take a while, because for some reason no one wants to help put it up. Too bad it didn't come with a cute English wallpaper installer!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tagged!

I was tagged by Tina of The Garden Goose to create a list of things that remind me of the South. First of all, thank you, Tina, for thinking of me. I intentionally did not look at her list so I would not be swayed in any way or the other. So here is mine, such as it is:

The Chattahoochee River- strong, wide and beautiful. We used to take our children there a lot when they were small. I love the sound of the water rushing over river rocks. And I have been known to crane my neck for a view when driving by it.

Andersonville- I cannot hear that name without thinking of all the men who were imprisoned there. If you are a student of the Civil War or not, go there. You will gain new respect for each side that fought. Walking through the cemetary, with line after line of small, white headstones, takes your breath away. You will not leave unaffected.

Kudzu- The green monster that has overtaken the South. But, with all of its questionable attributes, a very useful plant. There is nothing better on a warm, homemade biscuit than fresh butter and Kudzu Blossom Jelly.

Live Oaks dripping with Spanish moss- Four hours away from my home is Savannah, with its beautiful architecture and the most amazing trees that overwhelm the squares. They are stately and large, spreading their branches across each corner, shading you from the sun. They are one of the reasons I love that city.

Fried green tomatoes- From the Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle. Oh, my!! Hot from the kitchen, they make your mouth water and your knees weak!

Small town squares- Anchored by a courthouse, the bastion of justice, small quaint shops and eateries that serve grits with everything, they were the hub of commerce in their day. I'm glad to see that they are coming back, strong and proud.

Soft, Southern accents- Of which I am not in possession of. (Being raised in Massachusetts may have something to do with that!) There is nothing more melodic than a true Southern accent.

The Varsity- What'll ya have, what'll ya have? And you had better be ready with your order! Is it great food? Well, no. But it's something you have to experience for yourself at least once on a trip to Atlanta! (The onion rings are to die for though!)

Truman Capote- Odd, maybe. But if you ever read The Grass Harp, you will fall in love with him, the author, as I have.

The Georgia "G"- UGA, all the way! Go Dawgs!! At least that what my husband says. ;)

So, there you have it. My list of things that, for me, are indicative of the South. I am sure that you can come up with more interesting ones than what I have chosen.

Oh, and let me just add one more thing- my children. All three of them were born here in the South. I have to say that they are my favorite Southern things. :)

So, let's see. I am now able to share the joy of being tagged. I tag Jenny, Sue and Susan. Y'all will get a little message from me letting you know you have been tagged. ;)

And thanks for visiting my blog. Y'all come back now. Ya hear?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Home in the Wall- Part Deux

More pictures of the little house. This is the "loo". Complete with a tiny robe for the most modest of inhabitants when they come out of the bath. And that is actually tp on the roll. Nothing is too good. ;) The bedroom. It's the only one, so it's either no kiddies or all pile in together. My friend's daughter loves to come over and rearrange all the furniture. This is her latest attemp. Not bad, eh?

The living room in it's entirety. I wish mine looked this neat.
The kitchen table, all set for guests. A lovely pot of spaghtetti, fresh carrots from the garden and rolls. Of course, there is apple pie for dessert.
So, this is it. I have a lot of fun playing with this house, finding new and interesting things to place in it and make it more homelike. Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Home in the Wall

Well, here it is!! My little home in the wall! It's been an ongoing project for the past few years. It seems that when I get the bug to redecorate, this is the one place I can do it, and not feel guilty.
(Because tiny decorating absolutely does not count!)This is my favorite corner in the living room. The wallpaper is from England, which I
purchased when I was there last year. Don't you just want to shrink down and live there?

The working corner of the kitchen. And another English wallpaper. The pie safes are filled with food that I have made for the little house. Yum!
Another view and a basket of veggies.
The work table, where all yummy things are made in miniature.
This is the front view when the house is closed. The bricks are real, the windows go up and down and the door does open. Just ask my cat, who likes to poke her little paws in there and destroy the kitchen. :(

I will post some more pictures tomorrow. Right now I'm late!! Off to go purchase flowers for a friend!!
Toodles.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My Dad


Happy Father's Day, Dad. You are my hero.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Altered State





A few days ago I started my first piece of altered art. It was a bit intimidating to say the least. I have been reading about and looking at the work of others for quite a while now. But the thought of creating my own has just not been high on my list. It's that "I'm not sure I could do that" syndrome.
I am always so amazed as to what comes from deep inside an artist. And to have that feeling conveyed onto paper, or canvas, or fabric, to touch another heart is awe-inspiring.
There are works that are just achingly beautiful, that pull feelings to the surface and take your breath away. And you connect to that person and their art in such an intimate way that you feel you know them.
They are not afraid to express their emotions, and share them with us.
I'm not sure that I was able to accomplish that feeling on this first piece. The woman is my husband's great-great aunt. She is stunningly beautiful. And she had that far-away, longing look in here eyes that I wanted. I copied her onto a pressed lunch sack. It's the perfect color for maintaining the antique feel of her photograph.
The nest is one that came from my back porch, built by Carolina wrens two years ago to house their first family together, scanned in the computer. The three eggs are my children, in the nest that my husband and I created for them, surrounded with love. The three butterflies are them as well, ready for flight and leaving on their own journeys.
It is not perfect, but it is mine. It comes from that place in me that I have longed to reach, but have been afraid to open. It is laying bare my feelings and emotions of reaching that place in my life where I am now the mother of adults. This is their Spring, the season of new growth and exploration. Of leaving the nest to start their own lives. It is the time I knew was coming and I am grateful that they are ready for it.
Fly, little birds, spread your wings and soar. I will be here at the old nest, still full of love and joy and memories of you. It will never be empty.





Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Blecch!!

I almost hate to write this, but what I witnessed today was so shocking, so....disgusting, that I just had to tell you about it- all in the hopes that you will never have to be exposed to such horrors.
Coming back from a lovely day of shopping and lunch, I helped my friend, "Lucy", in with her packages. Leading up to her front step is a sweet brick path, with flowers blooming beside it. It smells wonderful. At the end of this path are four brick steps leading to the front porch, where sat her cat, TJ Maxx. (Yes, he is named for the store. Long gone is his brother Burlington.) He is a huge ginger cat, with a large round head and eyes that pierce right through you.
"Lucy, I think your cat is chewing on a stick."
At that moment, TJ looked up at me and dropped his prize from his mouth. There, lying on the front porch was nothing less (and definitely nothing more) than one-half of a lizard. Imagine my horror when it started writhing! "Oh, gross!! It's not dead! Oh, sick!"
There it was, in all of it's one-half glory, it's little mouth opening and closing, gasping for breath that would not help it survive this awful frontal attack by one very hungry and annoyed feline.
"Don't do it!" Ugh. He did.
Swooping his head down to the ground, he opened his gaping jaws and swept up that poor lizard in one bite.
"Oh, I am going to be ill."
Now, I understand Nature and the food chain, but I personally do not like to have it thrust in my face. Catch a lizard if you desire, eat a squirrel or a mouse. No problem. Just enjoy your repasts far away from innocent eyes and queasy stomachs.
Nature, while it may be beautiful, is not for sissies. I have discovered that I am one. And I'm not afraid to admit it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Release

This past Sunday, I was released from a calling I had held for two years and eight months. Allow me to explain- in the church that I am a member of, we are given calls to serve, and releases when our time of service is at end. My time drew to a close at 10:00 am Sunday morning.
I had been called to be somewhat like a shepherdess to the women in the Atlanta area. It was a calling that initially brought a tremendous feeling of inadequacy and in the end had planted in me a love for these women that will remain in my heart forever. It was a priviledge to be a part of their lives.
I did not serve alone. Along side me were two women who have become like sisters to me. We went together like good soup, each of us bringing something different to the pot, and when they were blended together made something that was delicious and nourishing.
I think that was the key- nourishing the women with the good word of God. Bringing them to a knowledge that they are beloved daughters of a Heavenly Father. ( I will not get preachy here, but is that not just the most wonderful thing to know?) Drawing them closer to the Savior by giving them opportunities to serve and to be served. It gives purpose to a life.
In the process, a connection developed that is difficult to explain. Like a beautifully woven fabric, our lives intertwined and strengthened each of us. Names on a page gave way to a face and the face to the heart of each of them. And each of them became important to me.
What this calling gave me was a greater capacity for compassion and understanding. Praying for these women gave me a deeper love for them. It kept me connected to my Heavenly Father and the Savior on a more intimate level. Those are the things I hope to carry with me forever.
This release has been a great gift. It allows me to know, with a certainty, that I am being watched over and cared for by a loving Heavenly Father. That what occurs in my life does not go unnoticed. It has brought me peace. joy, comfort and a surer sense of place.
So, the torch is passed on to someone new. Someone that I know and love. Someone who has all of the qualities to shepherd these women gently, giving them a place of solace from the whirlwinds of the world.
And I will serve elsewhere, in a place where my talents are needed. It doesn't matter where. As long as I am able to serve, I will- with a happy and grateful heart for the new flock and experiences that will come my way.
I hope my heart is big enough to hold everyone.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I Broil My Fish in Milk And I Don't Know Why!

Do you have quirky little things that you do that your mom or dad used to do before you? Come on. You know you do. I do. Such as the above title announces, I broil my fish in milk. Topped with a dot of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
When we were small, that is how my mother made fish. It makes even the most humble filet tender and flaky, moist without being mushy and very mildly flavored. I thought that was how all fish was cooked if it wasn't fried.
Monday night, I pulled fish from the freezer for dinner. Beautiful, white Tilapia filets, in fact. Out came my baking dish. I gave the pan a quick spray of olive oil and then laid the fish on top. Then came the milk.
My husband turned to me and said, "Why do you do that?"
"What?"
"Pour milk on the fish."
"What?"
Now, I could see him asking that question if we had just been married and this was the first time he had seen me broil fish for dinner. But, we have been wed for over twenty-five years!! And he just now wants to know why I pour milk on the fish? You have got to be kidding me!
The problem is, I didn't really know the answer. So, up the hill to my parent's house I went.
(I will have to preface this by saying that in our family there are the fish lovers and the fish haters. My mother belongs to the latter group.)
"Mom, why did you broil the fish in milk when we were kids?"
"Because I hate the smell of fish. The milk took away the fishy smell. If I had to cook it, I wasn't going to smell it."
"That's it?!"
"That's it."
Well! Talk about deflating my culinary ego. Here I had thought that I was following a long tradition of innovative cooking, and all I was doing was reducing the stench in my kitchen. Well! - again.
I suppose that all of this doesn't really matter in the long run. I will still broil my fish in milk, because I love how it turns out. Just like I will always make an abundance of pie dough, so I can roll up the extra bits with cinnamon and sugar and bake pinwheels the way my Grammy did each time she baked pies. Or top a hot dog with yellow mustard and celery salt, like my grandfather. Or make oatmeal cookies without spices, like my father. Or feel the need to create something, anything, with my hands, like my other grandmother.
I don't think we really have to know the "Why?" behind everything we do, as long as we know the "What."
We are keeping a bit of those we love with us. My grandmothers are never farther away than the flour bin or the craft room. My grandfather, I am sure, is smiling when I take a spicy bite of a hot dog and remember him as I do so. On baking day, I bring my dad a plate of oatmeal cookies, plainly made without spices, just the way he likes them.
But I don't bring my mother fish. I just cook it like she did all those years ago. It's the only way.
It's tradition.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Spot of Serenity

Do you have a place where you go for peace? A place that when you step in, it immediately relaxes you. I did not, until a few days ago. Just outside my dining room and kitchen windows is a small plot of earth that has been begging for use. It has called to me through the panes of glass that have cut us off from each other for years. Until Thursday.
It all began with a twinge in my brain. You know the kind- you can actually feel an idea beginning to form. I have learned to just roll with it. My husband would prefer that I roll in the opposite direction. Well, he's no fun!
Out of courtesy, I called him and informed him that I had an idea, and that he would love it. An exasperated sigh came through the phone lines. "Gotta go!", and off I ran to Home Depot.
A mere twenty minutes later, I emerged with my supplies- 20 very large bags of mulch and a roll of commercial weed-blocking fabric.
Now, in all fairness, I do need to admit that I had my brother and my son with me. After all, what's the fun of committing some sort of subtrefuge without someone else being in on it?
Home we drove, loaded to the top of the bed of the truck, which my husband has mistakenly allowed me to drive.
With nothing but a picture in my head, that was a bit difficult to extract at times, we began laying out a new spot in the garden. Three hours later, we finished. By that evening, I had found peace and quiet.
I thought that you might like to see what we created in the side yard, just outside and well within reach whenever peace is needed. As you can see, there is room for visitors. Lemonade, anyone?

(I'm not sure why all of these lines appeared, but I cannot seem to make them go away!)