Friday, November 30, 2007

Allow Me to Tempt You

With the first snaps of what will be in your giveaway box if you are the lucky name drawn from the big, yellow bowl!


One vintage Christmas apron, in perfect condition......




Six altered coin wrapper package decorations..... ( inspired by the delightful Beth)


A little close-up of one with its interior tag removed........


Aren't they cute?

That's all you are allowed to view for now. :)

Don't forget to leave a comment here to get your name in the bowl!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pay It Forward Sneak Peek!

Each of my Pay It Forward friends are going to receive one of these cute lavender and wool stuffed hearts (made by me) hanging from a darling French laundry hanger and.....


one dozen of these sweet hand-stamped ( by me) springy laundry pegs.


Won't laundry day be fun?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Know You Are Out There....

because I see that little counter to the left of this blog increasing in numbers every day. But, I get to hear from so few of you. I know you are busy, popping in just for a minute to see what's happening and then off to other things. I do the same myself! But I am trying to be better about leaving a small thought when I do encounter something lovely. So, in order to entice you to come out from the shadows and reveal yourselves to me, I am hosting a giveaway.



Yup. A nice, big, fat Christmas giveaway.
What will I be sending off to some lucky reader, you may ask? I think I will keep you in suspense for a bit, and then let out a few teasers over the next few days.
Hurry, though. I will close the drawing on Saturday, December 8, at 2:00 PM, in order that the treats may arrive before Christmas.
Come on! Leave a comment on this post and I will toss your name into my huge yellow ware bowl, and stir up a bit of Christmas magic.
You know you want to!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Madison

Having grown up in a house built in 1668(in Massachusetts), I greatly appreciate well-loved, aged homes.
I can close my eyes and picture the families that lived there and the circumstances of their lives. The joys as well as the sorrows.
Children being born, growing before their parent's eyes, and filling their home with sounds of childhood, laughter and tears.
I can see them as they sleep in their beds, tucked up under cozy quilts; playing with their toys- blocks, balls, baby dolls and fluffy-stuffed animals; chasing each other through the yard, hiding behind trees and swinging from their branches.
If you listen closely you can hear them. If you stand quietly, you can feel them.
As new families move in, they add their own memories and energy to the house, which will resonate through the walls to become a part of it.
No matter where you live, there will be homes filled with history. Be sure to stop, linger, and see if you can't catch a glimpse of the memories that live there.
Until then, enjoy these beauties from Madison.













Wait!! What's this?! How did this get in here? As if I didn't know. ha ha It's something from my Christmas wish list. If my hubby or children read this, consider this to be a H.I.N.T.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ah, Madison

The day after Thanksgiving found us venturing East out I-20 to the small town of Madison, GA.
No trip to the malls or department stores for this family. We prefer our after-holiday recovery to be of a more docile nature. (But kudos to those who develop sumo wrestler capabilities to procure the last of the most popular item of the year. My hat's off to you!)
Madison is known as the "town that Sherman refused to burn." The reason being that a senator, known to be a Union sympathizer, hailed from there.
Whatever the reason, I for one am personally grateful to have such a place of beauty remaining intact.
Within the town square can be found shops, the contents of which will fulfill any need you may have. Whether you know it or not.
If you are ever in the area, be sure to stop in and visit the Welcome Center in the center of town. You may just run into an old friend, as I did on Friday. It is such a small world.
Enjoy these few photos of this fair Southern town. Tomorrow I will post a few more. I do wish that Blogger would allow you to post as many as you desire.















Monday, November 19, 2007

A Thanksgiving Giveaway!



I found out about this from my friend Dawn, and now I am sharing this news with you!
The wonderful Becky is hosting a giveaway on her blog! For no special reason other than the fact that she is in the mood to be generous!! Go! Quick! Sign up for it today!!
And if anyone can tell me how to make her name into a link to her blog, I will be eternally grateful. I mean, if other people can manange it, I should be able to as well. Shouldn't I?

Eight Things I Love About My Kitchen

Amy, from buraellen (don't you love that name?), tagged me to share eight things I love about my kitchen with you.
Wow. Eight. I hope I can think of that many.

1. In the center of my kitchen is an enamel-topped cabinet that I bought in a yard sale for $20. It was in very poor shape, with chunks out of it and some sort of bug (ie- termite) damage. So, I sprayed the heck out of it with bug spray, filled the holes with wood filler, sanded it, painted it taupe and put new black hardware on it. Fabulous!! It looks so good, that when the woman I bought it from came to visit, she wanted to buy it back from me. Ha ha ha ha ha! Right. This is the place I make make my pies and set my jams and jellies to cool. I don't know what I would do without it. Plus it stores a multitude of sins.

2. I have wood floors in my kitchen and I love them. My husband and I installed them throughout the entire house after the fire back in 2000. They look as though they have been here for 70 years instead of 7, thanks to our two dogs.

3. When I redesigned the kitchen, I chose to put in shelving instead of cabinets. It was the best decision I have ever made. Really. And consequently, my kitchen is always clean, because I cannot shove things behind doors.

4. For Christmas last year, our son gave us a Brita water cooler that not only gives you cold water, but hot as well. So now, I have instant hot chocolate at night. Mmmmmmmm. I love that thing!

5. My pantry. but it is not in the kitchen per se. It is across in the dining room. We built it in when we redid the house. It is lovely and deep,and we put a screen door on the front. Funny, but about 2 months later, Country Home had one just like it in their magazine in their Built in a Weekend section. How did they get in my house?

6. I have a cast iron sink. And while it is a dish eater, I still adore it. I love the feel of it, the way it keeps the water hot while I wash up, the farmhouse charm it possesses. Tie on an apron, fill the sink with suds and you are just like Donna Reed. Without the pearls, thank you.

7. On the side of the pantry is the Smith Family's Wall of Fame. Painted with chalkboard paint and written on with white pencil, it carries the names of family, friends and each missionary that has served in our area over the past five years. It is done in height chart style and the most famous name on there is MaryJane Butters, who was at my house in October. :)

8. Bowls. I am a confessed bowl ho. Oh, wait! I can't say that, can I? But I am. I love bowls, especially Mason Cash bowls, and anything with a homey look to it. Bowls are the repositories for foods like macaroni and cheese, warm biscuits, Welch Rarebit, soups and chowders, beef stew and chicken pot pie. Bowls are the heart of the table because they hold so many comforting things.


There you have it, folks! Eight things that I love about my kitchen. My sweet little kitchen that produces all of the nourishing meals and tasty treats I feed my family.

I, in turn, am obliged to tag someone else to share their eight things.

Dawn, would you be willing to share your kitchen love with us?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Homemade Cleaning Products

Sarah, from www.todayshomemaker.com, asked if I would share a few of my recipes on my blog. I had posted them on Cherry Menlove's new forum and I am happy to post them here as well.
They are super simple, made from common ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen cupboards.

Laundry Soap-adapted from Aunt Jenny's recipe.

1 4.5 0z. grated Ivory (or similar), or 2 cups grated Zote soap or castille soap
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup oxygen cleaner (OxyClean or similar)
10 drops essential oil of your choice (Although I leave mine plain. I rather like the smell as it is.)

Use 2T of powder for each load.
I have used this since January and I love it. Our clothes are clean, they smell fresh and best of all, it's inexpensive. Plus you just feel good having made it yourself. :) (I found a hand-held grater at Ikea for .99 that works really well for grating the soap. It has small holes and a red handle, and it makes lovely, small curls of soap that break up well when you mix it in.)

Bathroom Scrub-
1 cup borax
1 cup baking soda
A few drops of essential oil, if you desire

Make a paste with warm water and use to scrub your tubs, sinks and toilets. Use a soft cloth and rinse well after cleaning.

Counter Cleaner-

1/4 cup white vinegar
1 quart warm water
A few drops of essential oil, if desired

Pour into a spray bottle and spray on counters and clean with soft cloth.

Floor Cleaner-

1 cup white vinegar
2 gallons warm water
Essential oils, if desired

Mix together well and mop away. I use either lavender, rosemary or rose geranium eo in my floor cleaner. Your house will smell wonderful when you are finished.

If you want to keep pests down (ants, fleas, etc.) add 1/2 cup borax to the water and mix until it is well-dissolved.

I also use olive oil mixed with a squeeze of lemon juice to polish my furniture and the old-fashioned baking soda, vinegar drain cleaner to keep the sinks from backing up. :)

Happy Cleaning, Everyone!!

Oh, and go check out Sarah's blog, too! It is very good! K

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hearts-a-Burstin'

Tucked along the woodline at the back of our property* lies a sweet surprise. A small stand of Euonymus Americanus has popped up unnoticed by my husband, who would have certainly whacked it down to nubs had he paid attention to that part of the yard.
For me, it is a wonderful treat. A volunteer that has burst out in its Autumn color and fruits and has called me to it.
I have taken a few pictures of this welcomed visitor for you to enjoy!





* That sounds so romantic, does it not? In reality, the "back of our property" lies a mere thirty feet from our back door. :) Ah, well.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day


Happy Veteran's Day to all of you in Blogland.
To those who have fought bravely, who have served our country, who have husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandsons, granddaughters, nephews, nieces, serving now, we salute you and give you our heartfelt thanks and eternal gratitude for the sacrifices that you have and will make.
Today I will spend the afternoon baking cookies to take to the 7th floor of the Atlanta VA hospital, where my dad recently spent two and a half weeks being cared for by their excellent staff.
My sister and I were speaking the other day and thought it would be a good idea if everyone went to their local VA hospital and visited with the men and women that are there, either temporarily or permanently. Trust me, when you see their faces and hear their stories, you will gain an appreciation for these men and women who have given so much for us. You will not leave unaffected.
Tomorrow I will make my delivery, small offering that it is, and give thanks to the staff for their kindness and compassion towards the patients that they care for.
And you can be sure that I will pop in and check on Mr. Chapman.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Mr. Taber

In the bed next to Mr. Chapman was Mr. Taber. Quiet, still. You hardly knew he was there. Well, most of the time.
Three years younger than Mr. Chapman, Mr. Taber had the look of someone who had lived a hard life. A very hard life.
Thin, with long graying hair, teeth set like that of a bulldog's, but with a disposition that drew you to him instantly. A sweetheart is what you would call him. Just a very nice man.
The first of our daily visits to Dad in #161 found Mr. Taber sitting in a chair beside his bed. The hospital bed was raised up just a bit, as it had just been freshly made with crisp white sheets and a new thermal blanket.
With limited use of his arms, Mr. Taber fish-flopped himself back into bed. I think he was tired of sitting. Still keeping his arms beside him, he maneuvered himself around until he was straight as an arrow in the center. The nurse was having a fit.
"Mr. Taber. What are you doing?! You could have fallen! Do you see how high your bed is?"
A slight chuckle and a nod of his head came with the reply, "I just want to be back in bed."
Between Mr. Chapman and Mr. Taber, the nurses assigned to this room had their hands full. 24/7.
Next to my dad was Mr. Goode. Bless his heart, he just laid in his bed, staring straight ahead listening to any ball game that was on the television.
His niece, Inola, and her friend came on Saturday to sit with him. Her friend was one of those women who instantly saw a need and instead of waiting to be asked, jumped in and took care of it.
Mr. Taber had been in the bathroom, washing up and brushing his teeth and trying to get his hair cleaned. In a small sink, sitting in a wheelchair, it was no small feat.
Coming back to his bed, he sat quietly pulling his fingers through the tangles and knots, wincing in pain as he did so. Inola's friend asked if she could help. Donning a pair of gloves and taking the comb out of the drawer, she began slowly grooming this very grateful man.
We had joked that I had scissors in my knitting bag and we could give him a hair cut if he wanted.
"No. That's okay."
Within a few minutes, he was asleep. Soundly. She continued to comb his hair, gently and rhythmically. After she finished, she pulled it back and braided it so that it would not get in Mr. Taber's face while sleeping.
We sat in awe as he slept, carried away in a dream of kindness and compassion shown towards him, unaware that she had continued on even as he did so. Bliss. If he had never experienced it before, he had now.
Waking up about a half an hour later, the first thing he did was to feel his head.
"Where is my hair?!"
We all laughed and told him to feel in the back, where the braid lay hiding.
"Oh, thank goodness. I thought you all had cut it!"
I am not sure if Mr. Taber had family. If he did, they did not come to visit him.
He looked forward to our visits with Dad, because he knew that he would have company also. We included him as much as possible.
"Good morning, Mr. Taber."
"George, how are you?"
"Did you sleep well?"
"What's for lunch?"
One morning we came in to find that he had experienced grand mal seizures during the night, one lasting eight minutes. I know what those are like. I have a son with a seizure condition, and they suck all of your energy away from you, leaving you as exhausted as though you had just run a marathon. Uphill, all the way.
A seizure is what had brought him to the VA in the first place. And here he was going through it all again. They are tricky things. You never know when the medicine no longer works in your body or you become ill and change your chemistry just enough that the synapses in your brain overcharge and begin misfiring. You never know.
Weakened by his battle during the night, he lay in his bed looking like a little child. A smile on his face appeared nonetheless.
Machines kept watch on his vital statistics, the nurse sat at his bedside and we all worried over him as though he were one of us.
The next day it was as if nothing had happened. That is the way it is. Every time.
My dad had requested that two of his electric razors be brought when we came to see him. One for him, and one for Mr. Taber.
"George wants to shave. Bring him the gray one, please."
Ah, you would have thought he had been handed the moon on a silver platter. Mr. Taber began shaving and did so for thirty minutes. After a while the sound of clipping hair ceased and yet he carried on, enjoying every minute of being able to groom himself for a change.
While he shaved his face, my dad began shaving his own. Bees. That is what it sounded like in that room. A swarm of bees buzzing in the corners, busy at work. Happiness in the making for such a simple thing. I take too much for granted.
Mr. Taber was transferred to a rehabilitation facility a few days later.
I certainly hope that they take good care of him. I hope that his family, if he has one, finally comes to see him. I hope that he is surrounded by kindness and charity. I hope that he knows the effect he had on each of us. I hope he can go home.
Thank you, Mr. Taber, for teaching me about strength in adversity, for being grateful for the small blessings, for being kind and thoughful towards others.
You are a hero.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mr. Chapman

The first room my father was brought to after being released from the MICU unit, was Number 161 on the seventh floor. It is a four-patient room and with Dad's arrival, all of the beds were now full.
Across from my father, tucked up under the covers like a small child, was Mr. Chapman.
He looked to be about my dad's age, maybe a bit younger. Sunken cheeks, graying hair, slim, knobbed fingers slipping out from under the blankets gave him the unflattering appearance of Gollum. On a good day.
His voice reminded me of Droopy, the small dog from the cartoons of my youth. A bit whiny, a little slow, somewhat high-pitched.
Our first glimpse of Mr. Chapman belied his feisty character. He was no mere dutiful patient. He was a force to be reckoned with.
As we sat in our chairs waiting for the nurses to get Dad settled in, we spied Mr. Chapman's leg sliding out from under the covers. Slowly, very slowly, he maneuvered it up and over the top of the bed rail that had been raised to protect him.
"Put your leg back in, Mr. Chapman." came the voice of the sitter in the room. Obviously she was wise to his ways.
"I'm not doing anything." came his reply.
Oh, dear. He is somewhat like my own children. They certainly have their hands full here.
The days we spent in Room 161 were never dull. In fact, we rather looked forward to seeing the men that resided there. All of them.
On Thursday, Mr. Chapman's family came to visit him. Hmmm, let's see if we can guess who they are. Older brother, sister (maybe), and wife? No.
The "older brother" turned out to be his father!! A very handsome man, dressed well in a tweed jacket, crisp shirt, tie and dress pants.
"Sister" was his mother. A tall, pretty woman whose appearance did nothing to give away her true age.
The "wife" was just that. Common law, as confessed by her own mouth. A very slim woman, missing teeth and fawning over Mr. Chapman as though this day was his last on Earth.
If these were his parents, he could not be as old as my father. He isn't. He is 59 years old. My heart immediately softened towards this sad, little man.
What could possibly have propelled him into such a downward spiral? Alcohol and drugs were the robber barons of his life. He had made poor choices and his choices had brought him here.
In the room, between the two windows, was a large white box that hid the pipes leading from one floor to the next. To my father, it was a chimney. To Mr. Chapman, it was the refrigerator.
"Hey. Do you think you could get me a cold beer from the refrigerator over there?"
My sister was a little taken aback as there was no refrigerator to be found.
"They don't have beer here, Mr. Chapman."
"Yes. Yes. It's right over there."
"No. You cannot have beer here."
"Then how about a cigarette? Or a cigar?"
"No. You can't smoke here either."
"All I want is a nice, cold beer!"
"I'm sorry."
That conversation propelled him into a rant the likes I have not ever heard. We all turned towards Dad, trying not to encourage the ornery man across from us. It did not work.
"I'm sorry your family did not come today, Mr. Chapman." The nurse was trying to calm him down.
"I'm going to kick you in the head you #@%*!!" Wow. That poor woman.
The string of obscenities kept coming, and the nurse, with all the patience she could muster, handled him brilliantly. They really do hire angels at the VA hospital.
Finally he calmed down, mumbled a very insincere apology and fell asleep. Peace, at last.
We discovered that he has been at the hospital for weeks now. He is the patient that everyone knows and loves, despite his behavior. He is a fallen hero, broken and alone in a world that he created.
Each day we tried to gain more insight into Mr. Chapman. Was he sly and manipulative? Or had he really reverted to the small boy that he used to be? Whichever it was, he demanded and commanded attention, and he like it that way.
On Wednesday, I made chocolate-pumpkin muffins for the men in 161, as well as the nurse assigned to them. Just a little something for Halloween that they could enjoy and was not candy.
Mr. Chapman dug into his greedily.
"Mmmmmm. Becky, that's really good. I've been trying to call you all day."
"Me? Why, Mr. Chapman."
"There's bad storms coming. Tornadoes. You need to drive carefully."
"Thank you, Mr. Chapman. I'll remember that."
He thinks I'm Becky. I wonder who Becky is?
The nurse asks the question for me. "Mr. Chapman, who is this?" pointing at me.
"That's Becky."
"Is Becky your sister?"
"Yep."
"That is Mr. Kimball's daughter. The man over there."
"Yep. That's Dad."
He had placed us in his world now, and we were his family.
Somewhere in his mind, Mr. Chapman, the real one, has been closed off and detached. In his place is the impish Mr. Chapman. The one who escapes from his bed and slithers on the floor, jumps to a chair and hops in it to his desired destination. The man who looks at you with blank eyes for hours, only to have a flash of recognition, right or wrong, propel him into the moment, where he will participate freely, only to disappear again just as quickly.
He lives for family visits, Reese's peanut butter cups, Oreo cookies, a cold, salty glass of water and a Georgia-Georgia Tech football game.
"I'm not really a crud, you know."
No, Mr. Chapman, you're not.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Shopping Therapy

Before going to visit Dad yesterday, my brother, mom and I took a little break and headed to McDonough for lunch at PJ's Cafe on the square. I would recommend the Shrimp Po' Boy and homemade chips. Actually, I would recommend anything they have there, but the Po' Boy is what I ate yesterday.
After filling our tummies, we took a walk around the corner to The Plum Tree. I cannot go to the square and not pop in there!
Ah, it smelled like Autumn the minute you walked in the door due to an Apple Cinnamon candle burning on a nearby table. Inside was a flurry of activity as the change was being made from all things autumnal to all thing Christmas!! Sunday is the big Christmas Open House, and I so wish I could be there. McDonough at Christmastime is beautiful. Like walking into Norman Rockwell's Stockbridge,Massachusetts right here in Georgia.
Of course, I had to do a bit of shopping while there. I have long admired Dawn's (the Feathered Nest) book-page covered star. It has called to me each time I go the shop. Yesterday I bought it. At last! It is mine! It will soon be found hanging in my family room. Thank you, Dawn, for your sweet creativity that made such a lovely thing.


I also purchased some metal type blocks, (I tried to spell out "So what?" but there was no W to be found. lol That's what I get for being cheeky!) some sweet tiny pumpkins, adorable little girl shoes and a hooked heart with a cute little picture of sisters in the center.
How do I spell relief? S*H*O*P*P*I*N*G!! It was just what the doctor ordered.
We arrived at the hospital to find one roommate had a seizure during the night and the other had been trying to call me all day. Not really. He thinks I am his sister.
One day I will find the time to write about Dad's roommates. Oh my goodness, they make the day interesting, to say the least.
'Til then, I'm off to Decatur to chat with Dad and work on little projects. The housework will just have to wait, but shopping therapy will always be called for.