Archive for August, 2011

August 25, 2011

lagging behind…

i had a few other posts lined up for this week including one on fall gardening.  truth be told, i’m lagging behind and may not get it out.  partly because it is still very hot – too hot to set anything out yet; and partly because i am under the weather at the moment (no pun intended).  i’m just not at the top of my game and it may be a week or so before i’m back into the full swing of things.  i’ve had to prioritize and when i only have enough energy to either fix dinner or write something thoughtful, i fix dinner.

not to say i won’t be posting, just that i may not be posting anything of any great significance.

all that being said i leave you with one of my favorite john denver songs and one i’ve listened to a lot recently as it seems to fit where we are at right now.

happy thursday!

sweet surrender

lost and alone on some forgotten highway
traveled by many, remembered by few
lookin’ for something that i can believe in
lookin’ for something that i’d like to do with my life

there’s nothin’ behind me and nothin’ that ties me
to somethin’ that might have been true yesterday
tomorrow is open; right now it seems to be more
than enough to just be here today

and i don’t know what the future is holdin’ in store
 i don’t know where i’m goin’, i’m not sure where i’ve been
there’s a Spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me
my life is worth the livin’, i don’t need to see the end

sweet, sweet surrender
live, live without care
like a fish in the water
like a bird in the air

sweet, sweet surrender
live, live without care
like a fish in the water
like a bird in the air

August 22, 2011

movie buff

saturday night my husband and i decided to go see a movie in an actual theater while the movie was still considered “hot” and very  much talked about.  if there is something we really want to see we typically wait until it makes its way to dvd. we then get it through netflix and watch it at home on our laptop in the comfort of our living room propped up on the sofa.   usually it takes us a while to get around to seeing things that are relevant – by the time we watch relevant films, society is through talking about them and has moved on to something else.  case in point: we just saw “the king’s speech” last friday night for the very first time.  we’ve only recently discussed that perhaps we should rent harry potter sometime and see what all that is about.  now, lest anyone think we are totally out of it, in my defense, i would like to say that we spend a good amount of time watching nitpicky, educational documentaries that do make us very interesting people (in certain circles).   i may not know a whole lot about harry potter, but i can tell you exactly how some of george bananchine’s muses felt about dancing for him, and how tupperware came to be sold at house parties.

back to the relevant movies….

last fall (?? i think it was?) i read the help.  i loved it.  it was the best book i have read in a very long time.  it was one of those books that was so good, i put everything on hold until i had a chance to finish it.  when i learned that it was to be made into a movie, i told my husband i wanted to see it.  right away.  in a theater.  just like everyone else. so i could talk about it just like everyone else.  so saturday we hit the matinee.

this post is not a review of the film.  you can read those elsewhere.  i would recommend though, that you read the book first, as the book, in my honest opinion, is far superior to the movie.  if you put the laundry and cooking aside to read it like i did, it won’t take long to get through it and you can still go see the movie while it is big stuff.

this post is about how i was reminded of why we do things the way we do.  why we wait until the movie is available on dvd and watch it at home, just the two of us.

as i said, we decided to catch a matinee showing.  not only is a matinee less expensive, there are fewer noisy people in the theater to contend with.  or so we thought.  unfortunately, several other people had the same idea for a saturday afternoon, enough people to fill nearly every seat of the theater.  people who eat popcorn, slurp drinks, rattle candy wrappers, forget to turn off their phones, and laugh in all the wrong places.  i sat next to a gangly youth who was obviously dragged along and only there because he had to be.  i don’t think he’d read the book.  i endured his popcorn eating for forty-five minutes only to listen to forty-five minutes more of him slowly digesting his bottled drink.

then there was the movie itself.  my husband and i decided that we will in fact rent this later anyway because we missed half the lines.  not so much because of the hungry youth beside me but because we were so enamored with the scenery we forgot to listen.  i’m not talking about oceans and mountains, i’m talking about glorious old plantation houses and a beautiful mid-century  modern ranch style.  i’m talking about vintage drainboard sinks, yards of beadboard, an incredible old stove, woodwork painted robin’s egg blue, and kitchen cupboards with layers of cracked paint and exposed hinges.  every other scene my husband and i would turn to each other pop-eyed and exclaim “oooohh! did you see that!?” “look at the pine cabinets!!”  then something important or funny would happen and we would miss it.  there was no opportunity to hit pause, discuss the way the kitchen was laid out, and then resume the film.

then of course there was the food “scenery” that only a foodie would catch and truly appreciate.  fried chicken made with crisco in a cast iron skillet and all those vintage goodies shown in my mother’s old betty crocker cookbook: sunshine jello salad, ambrosia, deviled eggs served with pickles, fluted orange cups, and chicken salad with white grapes.   i’m not one for lots of corresponding merchandise but i did come away thinking it would be cool if there was a cookbook from “the help” offered later.  minus of course a recipe for the chocolate pie.

perhaps i was just starving because our dinner afterwards at a pub (reminiscent of places we visited on our honeymoon) was the highlight of our afternoon.

missed moments aside the movie was very good and worth seeing.  the scene portraying celia foote planting her memorial rose bush was a poignant one for both of us, and one that hit very close to home.

we eagerly anticipate the dvd release so we can find out what it was everyone was laughing at while we were ogling over those blue chintz curtains.

August 15, 2011

the *conclusion* of the two rooms project

actually the two rooms project was originally titled “the project of the two rooms” but to say “the conclusion of the project of the two rooms” was too much of a mouthful…

anyhow.  i got it done for the most part.  there are still a few areas that need to be tweaked here and there and we really can’t fully finish these out for several months yet but for now, the two rooms are at least functional and no longer an embarrassing disorganized mess.

so here is the before shot of the room off of the garden:

and here it is “after”…

i will agree that there is not a significant difference but i can assure you that it is decluttered and therefore that much easier to keep clean.  the box on the chaise goes to goodwill.  i’m still working on that…

i had a brilliant thought the other day and decided that if we remain a family of two i will make this a morning room like the one in du maurier’s rebecca.  it was the room where mrs. de winter spent every morning planning dinner and opening the mail.  it was, aside from rebecca’s, the loveliest room in the whole house.  i’ve always wanted a morning room and this would be perfect.

on to the closet…

my (yoga mat and my) dandy collapsible sewing table.  i will show you that and how it works in another post at another time.

above i have sewing and craft supplies stored:

and opposite, seasonal decorations, my duck family (which i currently have no place for but absolutely love and therefore cannot yet part with), and my fabric.

i haven’t shown you a below shot because my wedding gown is still hanging there.  i need to find a place to have it restored.

here is a shot of the office?/nursery? before:

and here it is now:

pretty empty and empty it will stay for a bit until we see the lay of the land.  i’m thinking now though that if it isn’t an nursery? i my bring in my grow lights, and my settee.  as you can see this is a very fluid project and i change my mind a lot.

so there you have it.

my next up and coming project is to fully stock and organize my pantry.

for now though, i leave you with a little addition to my kitchen:

…a brass towel rack. the towel says “bon appetite ya’ll.  nope i didn’t misspell appetit.  it says appetite.

and yes those are dirty dishes in my sink.

happy  monday!

August 12, 2011

window shopping…

i’m an old house junkie.  if i had the money, i would collect old houses the way some people collect salt and pepper shakers.  my first encounter with an old house was when i was ten years old and  i was staying overnight with a friend.  the home they were in was a temporary situation, a rental, that they didn’t even like.  i, however,  thought it was beautiful and i loved the way the wood floors creaked when we carried our hot chocolate back to the bedroom.  ever since then i have carried a fondness for older homes and moving into one was a long time dream come true.

i don’t want to move. ever.  i do though, still love to look at old homes and wish there was some way to “rescue” them from the potential home buyer who will slather the walls in the latest trendy color (what is it now? slate gray?  i don’t even know), slap a slab of granite on the kitchen countertops, and turn the back porch into a third bedroom.  my husband and i fantasize about buying a huge tract of land, buying up some of the old homes in our area, and moving them; creating an “older” private neighborhood with a very strict code.  no vinyl windows, no interior or exterior renovations that are not consistent with the original architecture.  we might even add a diner and a corner drugstore with a soda fountain.

these are some of my recent finds that i have fallen in love with:

this one is in a historic district about a mile and a half from where we currently live.  it was built by a well-known local architect in 1920.  it was originally built as a duplex and has been converted to a single family home.  i’ve not seen the inside but considering the amount of time it has been on the market, i’m guessing the “redo” was not very well done.

and this one is directly across the street from the one above, also built in 1920.  the arched window though to the far right does not appear to be original.  ::sob::

now this one is an eyesore, i will admit.  built in 1920, i run past this house every morning.  the inside though (that i’ve seen only in pictures) has a lot of what appear to be original arches and wood floors.  the kitchen has some fabulous yellow cabinets, and the sink, while not original, has a wonderful vintage metal rim with a wall mount faucet.  it does not however, have central heat and air, the garage has disappeared, and there is no laundry room.  the brick pillars also need to be removed and replaced with cedar posts.  i’d also replace the door and take off the shutters.   it would take an incredible amount of time and $$ to get it into shape, neither of which we have right now but it would be a fun challenge.


August 10, 2011


vintage sesame street.  these bring back memories if sitting in the tv chair in my parent’s room eating dry cheerioes from a tupperware cup.   i’m definitely dating myself here…

fairy alphabet:

a very talented orange:

and my absolute favorite: the ladybug picnic.

August 8, 2011

this and that…

it’s monday!  but i’m happy this morning because my husband is home and will be home for two weeks this month.  not two consecutive weeks, but two weeks nevertheless.  today will be a normal day for us  although we have gotten off to a bit of a late start having stayed up last night watching the x-files.  we’re right in the middle of season five, just in case you wanted to know.  my two mile walk (run for him) underway, i’m looking forward to laundry and tidying up from the weekend.

today i also plan to close out the project of the two rooms.  it has taken a bit longer than i anticipated.  i took a bit of a break in there to help out with our yard work but it is about finished.  the rooms have yet to be painted but we can’t really do that until next year when we have a better idea of what our family situation is going to look like.  we’d still jump at the chance to have the office?/nursery?  become a nursery!  but i’ve been doing lots of reading and research on childfree living as a family of two just in case the office?/nursery? becomes an office (note the absence of italics and exclamation point).  ya know though, as tough as it might be to experience the unthinkable, i’m finding that it could be doable and  i’m pleasantly surprised to find that i am at peace with the matter.  at least for today.

our garden has all but bit the dust.  we’re in the middle of the worst summer we’ve seen in over thirty years with over a month’s worth of temperatures in the triple digits.  last week i realized that i was heavily watering but nothing was producing and therefore it just wasn’t worth it.   we yanked out the last of the summer tomatoes and tossed them into the compost bin.   i’m still planning for a fall garden i just don’t know when it will go in.  the heat is not giving any sign of letting up. it is all rather discouraging.  no heirloom tomatoes this year, no zucchini, and no pole beans.  i even lost my sunflowers.  the few ornamentals that are left are bleached by the sun and not very pretty to look at.  no point in keeping them but i just don’t have the heart  yet to pitch them into the compost bin as well.

i’ve decided to take up sewing again.  i had quit after a disastrous project last year.  i’m not quite sure what gave me the incentive to reconsider but i did, and while the results have not been perfect i’m finding my way back to sewing items for my wardrobe.  maybe.   i think i have figured out the pattern sizing mystery, and i’ve found some styles and patterns i like.  i also discovered and bought a dandy sewing table that folds up out of the way when not in use and i’m currently shopping around for a used serger.

last week i sat down and sketched out some further ideas for blog posts.  i am going to try a regular book review column.  i posted my first last week,  but don’t expect to see anything else soon.  i’m wading through a 600 page (in tiny print) historical fiction right now and don’t see that i’ll have it completed before september.  i do though want to review my collection of cookbooks, feature some recipes from my grandma mabel’s kitchen, continue the mrs. beeton column (which was never meant to be taken seriously ya’ll), and organize some random favorite links into a series of posts called “snippets”.

stay tuned and have a lovely week.



August 6, 2011

ten random things about my kid sister…

1. twenty-six years and approximately ten and a half hours ago today my little sister amy was born.

2. there are thirteen years between us and nine years between she and my sister, marisa.  my  mother gave birth to her when she was thirty-six.  this doesn’t seem like much now, but amy was born in the era before it was common for women to give birth after the age of 35.  this was also before the gender determining ultra sounds were popular so none of us knew whether the baby was a boy or girl.

3. my mother’s labor started when i was playing at a friend’s house.  i was taken from there to mrs. wilkin’s  home (my “adopted” grandmother)  to spend the night while my parents were at the hospital.

4. i woke up sometime in the middle of the night and wondered if the baby had yet been born.  not much later, the phone rang.  within a few minutes, mrs. wilkin came into the guest  room where marisa and i were sharing the hide-a-bed sofa.  she tiptoed to my side, crouched down and whispered “it’s a girl!”

5. several hours later,  my dad came to the house for breakfast.  he was so happy he was walking about six inches off the ground and carried with him a photo.  i kept telling myself that the pink and white, chubby cheeked bundle in the bassinet was my sister but it took quite a while to register.   several hours later i got to hold her for the first time.  i noticed she had a tiny dimple above her right ear.  as far as i know, it is still there.

6. amy has always been very creative.  she loved to draw, she loved to write.  she was later joined by two younger brothers for whom she would stage very elaborate play times.  the three of them were either pirates, cowboys, or a chinese emperor and his servants.

7. amy loves dogs.   she took in my dog scruffy when she was a toddler.  with a new little sister to play with, i didn’t have much time for my dog.  she loved scruffy and cared for her until she died on the morning of amy’s tenth birthday.  amy was so brokenhearted she could hardly eat her birthday breakfast.   a few years later, amy decided she wanted a shih-tzu.  we couldn’t afford a puppy so amy decided to pray for one.  a family heard of amy’s desire and decided to give her their shih-tzu, lexi.  he became her faithful side kick and is still living although very old now in dog years.  it was through amy and lexi that i discovered my own love of shih-tzus.

8. amy has a very tender heart but she also has a soul of iron.  she has been through much in her 26 years; much more than most people experience in a lifetime.  she has  literally looked her fears directly in the face, managed to stare them down, and gone on to use that experience as a focal point of her creativity; using her creative genius to reach out to others who are hurting.

9. amy began writing songs when she was in jr. high and taught herself to play the guitar from a chord chart purchased at wal-mart.  she jerry-rigged a few mattresses together to build a sound booth, recorded her music, then sent it to a producer in hopes that  he would listen.  she didn’t stop asking until he agreed to give her an audience. a few years later i received a package in the  mail.  it was amy’s first album made with this producer.  i cried when i saw she had dedicated it to me.  and others of course.  but as far as i was concerned it may as well have just been me, i was so proud.

10.  the homemade sound booth recording was the launch of her music career.  since then she has recorded an album, made appearances on television,  appeared in concert with damien rice, and given numerous concerts for charity.  she recently released a  new song “gasoline rainbows” to help fund clean-up efforts for the oil spill.  the song was also made into a video.

happy birthday amy!  we love you lots and are so proud of whom you’ve become.

August 4, 2011

confessions for a thursday morning…

~ i have developed a morbid fascination for beauty pageant reality tv shows.  “toddlers and tiaras” is a little too much even for me but this past week i discovered “king of crowns” and the “bituminous coal queens of pennsylvania”.  love the token scene where the pageant mom is fighting with daughter who did not properly execute a turn (or whatever).  she takes a deep breath, her huge southern pageant mom hair-do quivers with her frustration and she says in her thick southern drawl…”baby….ah…just…wahnt…so much for you….” her voice cracks.  then she begins to cry.  i love it.  it’s great.

~when i am not watching behind the scenes at beauty pageants, i am watching “the x-files”.  my husband informed me that this is a key part of my coming of age that i missed. usually we watch these together and discuss how great it would be to stage an x-files parody.

~when i was in my early twenties i wanted dana scully  hair even though i had no idea who dana scully was.   i wasn’t able to pull it off though and more often times than not looked like the frustrated southern pageant mom.

~ yesterday i went to a meeting with about 200 other people.  i noticed some guy i had never seen before wandering about and looking a bit like he’d just gotten out of bed.  i was about to ask him if he needed help when he came and sat next to me and puttered on his i-phone.  he was later introduced as a doctor and one of the speakers at the meeting.

~ i went to chipotle after the meeting and ended up at a table incidentally between the doctor who was still on his i-phone and a group of detectives from the police department.

~ i was disappointed that our detective uniforms are nothing more than printed t-shirts and khaki cargo pants.  no pinstripe suits?

~ i was tempted to interrupt their lunch and ask if there really were some x-files tucked away in a basement. was there really a fox mulder?  did smoking man really kill jfk?  then i realized that the local police department was not the fbi and they would most likely have no idea what i was talking about unless they sat with their wives and watched the “x-files” on date night too.  in which case the conversation might have been interesting after all and if we ever decided to shoot that parody we’d know some guys who might like to join.  guys with real live guns. but i digress….

~ i like the  name fox.

~ i am such a movie/tv nerd that i googled smoking man trivia.  the cigarettes are herbal ones  and he currently lives in canada.

August 1, 2011

book review

i just finished reading:  silent sorority: a (barren) woman gets busy, angry, lost, and found by pamela mahoney tsigdinos (ok i didn’t just finish reading this, i finished it a while back but i have had it on my mind to review for some time)

in a nutshell: the memoirs of one brave woman’s ten year journey through infertility and her reconciliation to becoming cnbc (childless not by choice).

what i thought:  like some of the other infertiles who have reviewed this book have said: the author’s approach is a very personable one.  reading it was very much like a friendly visit over a pot of tea.  pamela gave voice and validation to many of the same feelings, fears, and frustrations i have experienced over the past six years.  her ability to face every infertile woman’s greatest fear: a permanently empty cradle, and yet purpose to lead a full and productive life was an inspiration to me.   as we round the final bend of our own infertility journey and  await the outcome, it is a tremendous comfort to me to read of cnbc women such as pamela who  are, in my opinion, the unsung heroes of those  who experience infertility.

why i would recommend it: this isn’t just for the infertile woman as it gives valuable insight into what it  feels like to be the only one at the ladies’ lunch who does not have a birth story.  the author gives a voice to the devastation of infertility that is often difficult, for those who have never been there, to understand.  the appendix includes a list of ways to be supportive to an infertile friend or loved one.

favorite passage: “in order to truly come to terms with infertility i had to stop using the fertile world as a measuring stick. i would forever be an alien if i stayed in that mindset.  it was a difficult lesson to learn, but a liberating one after  years of feeling inadequate and unable to fulfill the life i was supposed to be leading…i can only be at peace knowing we did our best to have children with what was available to us, pursuing the science that we were comfortable pursuing….it’s not good. it’s not bad. it’s just what happened. “   this particular passage was such a comfort to me.  it relieved a lot of the guilt i have felt over these past years wondering if there was something i’ve done to cause this,  or something more i could be doing to alleviate it.  i don’t know how many useless hours i have spent interrogating myself wondering if a failed cycle was due to that cup of caffeinated tea, if i should have pressed my doctor for more answers,  should i have…? what if…? why didn’t i……?  when i finally realized that this was something that just happened i felt a tremendous load taken off of my shoulders.

feathered rating: