Welcome friends...thanks for coming by. We're seeking beauty in all of creation... in our faith and our families; our art and our music; our crafts and kitchens, and even in our own backyard. We'll share a poem or a recipe, a picture or a memory; maybe a dream of how we wish our life could be. And though we acknowledge that the world can be harsh, we're keeping it pleasant in our little corner; endeavoring to keep the words from the Book of all Books: ...Whatsoever things are lovely; think on these things.

I so enjoy hearing from you...so leave me a comment; it'll make my day!

Photo: Bee and thistle: Taken high in the Cascade Mountains where there is a bee buzzing on every thistle. by Debora Rorvig

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tempus Fugit...Time Flies


     Today, in my continued quest to simplify my life and modernize my home, I gathered up 4 pair of shoes, a set of curtains, a small set of Shakespeare's collected works, 2 bed ruffles, and a chintz covered chair. I also made up my mind to sell the clock.
      We came to own the grandfather clock when we moved into our home, about 5 years ago.  The seller, Ivy, a lively 88 year-old widow, was moving in with her children and would not have room for it in her mom-in-law apartment. As we strolled through the house with her after closing the sale, she paused in front of the clock. Her bright blue eyes misted over and she stroked the old clock-- as you would touch an intimate friend or lover. It seemed as though the by touching the old timepiece; she hoped to recall once more and hold in her palm--all of the wonderful days and hours; minutes and seconds that she'd spent in this place with her beloved late husband. The two great loves of Ivy's life are her husband and her garden. I say 'are' because Ivy is still alive and living a vital life with her family. Her health is extraordinary for a woman of about 94 years old. She still works in the garden, and even drives!
     "Howard was a good carpenter," she told us with pride.He'd constructed the window boxes for her so many years ago. I glanced out the living room window at them...they were filled to the brim with sweet pink geraniums and cascading white alyssum. So delicate and lovely- so like her. There were roses of every hue, Shasta daisies, towering blue spruce, hedges of boxwood, scarlet rhododendron...all carefully and lovingly planted by Ivy and Howard over the course of their lifetime together. And now she would have to leave it all behind...even the clock.
     "Would you like to buy it?" her eyes brightened with hope.
     I didn't hesitate.
     "Oh yes, I'd love it." I knew in my heart that the only bit of consolation she would have in leaving her home, was the thought that  Kelly and I would have the same love for her home and for one another- as she'd had with her Howard. So the clock, and the house became ours.
     But the clock is out-dated by today's standards...and it's oak. So is my table, my hutch, and my gi-normous victorian bedroom suite. I'd like to replace them all. 
     The clock face said 'Tempis Fugit.' I summoned up the words on Google-trying to determine a fair price to ask for it when I posted it on Craigslist. Tempis Fugit, according to the experts is not the brand of the clock. It's a saying. It means, Time Flies.
     As I stood before the old clock, gazing into it's face-those words spoke to my heart. Time flies. Kelly and I are in our 50's--when did that happen? My babies are parents now. My grandchildren are growing like weeds. Every one of the grandkids, at some time or another, has delighted in standing before this clock, counting the chimes so that, even though they were too young to tell time; they could proudly turn and say..."It's nine o'clock Gramma!"  How would they feel on the next visit to Grandma's, if the old clock was gone?     
     Even Heather, my daughter, paused a moment when I telephoned her to say that I was selling the clock. Though her taste is modern and she would love for me to update my house, she quietly said, "I dunno, Mom.  I love old clocks. I still want a cuckoo clock everytime I see one- because we had one when I was little. I just can't get over it."
     Maybe I'm being a sentimental fool, but I think that old clock was trying to tell me something. "Don't be in such a hurry for change...it happens almost imperceptibly; but rapidly, nonetheless. So savor your life, your moments together with you husband. Relish every day that you spend with family...and enjoy your life to the fullest." That's what the clock said.
     So I dusted the old boy off and fixed the broken finial on top. I got out the dolly and shuttled my clock into the dining room...where I'm sure he'll happily coexist with my other oak furniture. And I think he looks quite content in that corner, right next to the window. Peeking out through the window, he can see the pink rose is in bloom that Ivy planted decades ago.
     Who knows, perhaps in years to come, I'll be the one running my hands over it's antique face and saying wistfully to some young couple, "Would you like to buy this clock?"

My dining room...with grandfather clock
Keeping Grandma Youngdyke's dishes too. My sister found them at an antique store. This was the same set that Grandma had. We don't know the brand; but they are pretty, aren't they? So sweet of my Sis to give them to me. Grandma Y. died when I was a baby, so these dishes are one of my few connections to her.

Kelly bought me this cup while vacationing at Harrison Hot Springs. It was a quaint little shop run by an elderly gent; an Aussie. Though in his 80's he raising his young grandson. There was some kind of tragedy surrounding the boy's mother-so the gentleman named the boy Phoenix, after a beautiful mythical bird. The story goes that near the end of the birds long life, it builds a nest of twigs which ignite. The bird and the nest are burned ferociously and reduced to nothing but ashes. But from those ashes a new young phoenix is reborn and lives again. The old man simply adores his grandson, and the grandson his grandfather. I think both of their lives are richer for having been brought together through tragedy. Their lives are truly, the story of the Phoenix. 
A pair of lovely old prints flank my hutch.

One of my favorite pieces of art by Jim Daly. Tom & Huck Finn aren't getting much done, are they?

Grandma Strong's rocking chair. Kelly's grandma was so lovely. I had three children when Kelly and I married. She treated my children with equal fondness to all of her other grandchildren. I will always love her for that.

A Christmas gift from Stacy, my sister in law. That year she gave me a big beautiful decorated box filled with vintage teacups and the most graceful, pale pink teapot I've ever seen. Some people don't like buying 'used' things as gifts, but Stace knows how much I love to have tea-parties. So thanks again Stacy, for the very thoughtful gift.

Shortly after we married, Kelly's Grand-Dad passed away. My mother-in-law Virginia, and her sister Jackie, pooled their inheritances and took the entire family to Disneyworld--compliments of Grand-Dad. If I remember correctly, there were 25 family members on that trip! It was my very first plane ride. Kelly bought me this teacup at Epcot Center. The first of many. Thank you Virginia, for that special trip. And to Grand-Dad...truly the greatest grandfather I have ever met...although my husband rivals him, that's for sure!

Time Flies, Grandfather Clock.
Thank-you for the reminder.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A challenge: Divest yourself of 5 useless items

Are you a hoarder of things? Maybe not like those folks on the telly, but tell the truth now...Do you find yourself saying, "I might need that one day" or "I don't really like it, but it was my grandmothers..." or my personal favorite..."I could make something out of that!"

So tell me; what is it that you have the most trouble letting go of? For me, it's books and magazines... stacked and stored in every nook and crannie of this house. Followed by artwork; under every bed. Then there are the shoes, craft supplies, cheap vases, linens and doilies, the hotel soaps and lotions...

One time I heard Dennis Miller, the comedian talking about the blue light specials at K-mart; the buy one, get one free mentality.  I'm paraphrasing here...you can guess his actual words "Two of poop... is still poop."

My goal for today...let go of 5 items I don't really need. I challenge you to do the same.

Get some help for your habit at  http://zenhabits.net/.  Seriously.

P.S. Here's the list of things I'm getting rid of today:
  • 4 old phone books
  •  a beautiful victorian lamp that doesn't match my house
  • a pantsuit that doesn't fit and I've always hated, but it's almost new
  •  a book-to show good faith because books are my most prized and guarded hoard
  •  a pom-pom from a slipper that I threw away yesterday
  • a guest list to my Christmas tea party from 3 years ago
  •  a crystal from a chandelier I no longer have



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lettuce, Turkey Ham, and a Little Inspiration from Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is my hero. She's what I want to be when I grow up. It's not just her writing; which in itself would make her admirable. It's her soul-her grace, even regal manner.

So when I spotted her cookbook in the library "Great Food, All Day Long"; I snagged it. Didn't have to look inside...Maya doesn't write anything bad. And of course, it's just superb.

In one part she describes coming home from travelling to a house that 'resists' her. Cold, unfriendly, and aloof is how she describes it. (Oh how I love the imagery here; describing a house with human characteristics.) Her remedy for 'winning the house back' is to head to the kitchen and start cooking. She does it immediately...right after she sets her luggage down inside the door. 

It's true isn't it? The warmest, most inviting homes aren't necessarily the prettiest or the most spic-n-span; but they do always smell of good home cooking. So I headed for the cupboards to see what I could rustle up.

I had a half of a turkey ham in the freezer, a lot of fresh veggies in the keeper, some dried split peas, a dozen eggs and some rolls.  And; to my great delight, the leaf lettuce in my garden is ready to pick!
Sounds like the makin's for a great chef salad tonight, with soup for tomorrow and sandwiches for lunch; plus maybe some ham & eggs or waffles and ham on Thursday.

Chef Salad

Fresh lettuce
Hard Boiled Eggs
Green Onions
Garbanzo Beans
Black Olives
Cheddar Cheese
Cooked Ham
Sunflower Seeds
Your favorite Dressing

Or...Just use whatever you've got in the fridge.

I cooked the whole ham for soup and other meals, and I threw in a few extra eggs for egg salad sandwiches this week.

This photo is from Southern Living--the rest are mine.

I'm as proud as punch of this lettuce...it's the first produce from my garden.

Split Pea Soup with Ham

One 1-lb. package of dried split peas
Wash and sort peas.
Put them into a soup pot and cover with 6-8 cups of water.
Bring to a boil, then simmer...skimming foam off the top.
Add chunks of ham or a ham bone, a handful of diced onions.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Cook until peas are mushy; adding water to the consistency you desire.
I like my soups pretty thick.

Enjoy...then freeze the rest for an easy work-night meal.

Thanks Maya! My house is feelin' mighty friendly right about now!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Haven of Rest


It seems so long ago that I was swinging precariously from the corporate ladder, juggling the balls that my job, family, and even church threw my way...never able to say no when another ball was tossed at me by the powers that be.
     In those days, my fondest desire was time. Time to sleep, to cook healthy food, to go to my kids' ballgames, time to just sit with my thoughts-uninterrupted. I'd read stories of women who'd taken sabbaticals--sometimes far away, sometimes in their own backyards and I envied them to the core of my being.
     Then the inevitable happened...a ball dropped-it was my health...my heart. It was racing...fast. I called a dear old minister friend, Reverend Glady Warburton, and asked her to pray for me. Rev. Warburton is one of those old-school saints/warriors after the pattern of Smith Wigglesworth; and I've often received instantaneous healing when she's prayed. She prayed for me and counseled me sternly. She said; "You will be fine, but it's stress, Debora. You must must must rest. Go lie on your couch and do nothing but meditate on Christ and his Word." When I protested about all the people/things that needed my attention; she cautioned me..."Say No! This is your time to heal. It's all about you and your needs, my dear."
     So I said NO. No to my job, my friends, my neighbors, my family, my husband, my church---to everybody that wanted a piece of my time. And I rested. Then I went to the local college and enrolled for fall quarter...in education. I knew I'd eventually be working for half what I made in business, but I'd be living out my old dream of teaching...and I'd have summers off to rest...the long dream of a sabbatical was coming true. And I did just that. I think I may have been the only 40-something, menopausal student with a heart monitor in my classes! Math exams were an instant source of hot flashes for me. But I made it. I got better, and I got my degree.
     Now here I am at the end of another school year, planning my summer. It's hard to rest when there's so much to do. The truth is; there's still a ladder I'm tempted to climb, with plenty of balls for me to juggle. Home improvement, sewing, gardening; crocheting; cooking, travel, cleaning...I could go on. But I must remember to keep my 'sabbath'. To take this time to recharge and to spend my time on what counts the most. I feel strongly this year that my theme for this summer is worship. Not merely singing songs in church with arms raised (though that's good); but on my knees before the Throne...listening to the sweetest of all Voices and waiting for His will. My theme song will be "The Haven of Rest". This is my one summer priority. If nothing else gets done...Oh well! It will have been a great summer for me. Won't you join me in making this summer a time of worship and rest? Do you remember the old hymn?


My soul in sad exile was out on life’s sea,
So burdened with sin and distressed,
Till I heard a sweet voice, saying, “Make Me your choice”;
And I entered the “Haven of Rest”!


I’ve anchored my soul in the “Haven of Rest,”
I’ll sail the wide seas no more;
The tempest may sweep over wild, stormy, deep,
In Jesus I’m safe evermore.

I yielded myself to His tender embrace,
In faith taking hold of the Word,
My fetters fell off, and I anchored my soul;
The “Haven of Rest” is my Lord.

The song of my soul, since the Lord made me whole,
Has been the old story so blest,
Of Jesus, who’ll save whosoever will have
A home in the “Haven of Rest.”

How precious the thought that we all may recline,
Like John, the beloved so blest,
On Jesus’ strong arm, where no tempest can harm,
Secure in the “Haven of Rest.”

Oh, come to the Savior, He patiently waits
To save by His power divine;
Come, anchor your soul in the “Haven of Rest,”
And say, “My Beloved is mine.”


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fabric Designing on the Web with Spoonflower

Have you visited Spoonflower yet? You can actually DESIGN YOUR OWN FABRIC there. Just think... pillows, tablecloths, curtains, beach bags, aprons...Oh my goodness- I've gotta calm down here. And when you do some photos in a mirror image design, they come out like a kalaidescope...I can't explain it too well; just go try it! You can even sell your designs and get commissioned on the fabric sales. (Probably ought read the fine print before you get into selling your stuff). I think that my sunflower would make gorgeous pillows for a sofa. and the print below would be lovely in silk...Heres the link; http://www.spoonflower.com/ . Have fun!


The Parable of the Morning Glories

It wasn't so long ago that we built our doggy a fence, so she'd be kept safely in our back yard. We plan to put some kind of hedge along it as a screen. But not long after, I looked out the window and to my amazement, this is what I saw!

Almost overnight we'd been overtaken by morning glories. Where on earth did they come from? I donned my barn boots and trudged out back for a closer look...

Leapin' Lizards! It was a hostile takeover! They were everywhere. Wound all around the fence, completely covering the ground, strangling my wheelbarrow. (Yes, Jo-jo, here's something that apparently LOVES our wet spring!)

I did some research on these vicious vines and here's what I learned...
  • The roots can go down 30 feet or more.
  • If you till them up, every broken piece becomes a new plant. (Remember that  horrible old tale about the magic broom? It was a symphony we listened to in school-the broom kept breaking in half and multiplying) This is probably how we got such a bumper crop. We tilled last fall.
  • Chemicals (which I detest) are not too effective. You have to pour Round Up into bowls and soak the little tips of the plant in them. Since I don't have 10,000 bowls or the inclination to nuke my backyard, I ruled this one out.
  • Once they flower, the seeds will spread and multiply. The seeds can last up to 30 years. UH OH... they were budding already!
  • It takes years to get rid of them completely, if ever.
  • The longterm approach, which seemed the sanest, was to dig up what we could, cut down the rest (making sure to rake out all of those potential new plants), and to cover with black tarp to keep the sun from helping them photosynthesize.

What a job! I pulled and dug-Kelly got out the weed-whacker; then we raked, bagged and disposed of thousands of these plants. We're gonna have to stay on it though...

And the parable? Well the Bible tells us to be diligent-in case a root of bitterness spring ups within our hearts and begins to  spread and multiply; defiling many is how it's described. That got me to thinkin'... how fast does bitterness grows-and how invasive it is? Fast I bet. I guess it would be better to root bitterness right out of my life, than to fertilize it with self pity and anger. I've been known to do that more than a few times. So I'm taking a lesson from the parable of the morning glory. I don't want my inner garden to wind up looking like this!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever

Sometime around the end of  May to early in June back in the 60's (and for decades before then) the strawberry fields in North Whatcom County would ripen. On warm summer days the air would be pearmeated with the fragrance of the sweet ripened fruit.
     Just a day or so after school was out for the summer; we'd get up at daybreak and go out to the roadside to be picked up by berry buses and transported to the fields for the harvesting of the crop.  The growers would lure us with newspaper advertisements boasting of having the biggest berries with generous payouts. As I recall, when I began my berry picking career, back in the third grade, 80 cents per flat was the going rate. A few years later we earned a walloping $1.00 per flat with a 20 cent per flat bonus for picking all season. A younger child might only pick 4 flats per day-but the teenagers were able to sometimes pick 20 or more. (A flat is 12 boxes-not the little open weave boxes you buy in the store, but large cannery size boxes.) My very first check for the season was $30.00. The last year I picked, I made around $200.00. I've had many jobs in my 55 years, but the money I made picking berries was the hardest-earned.

So...having chosen the very best grower, which for me was the Curt Mayberry farm;  bright and early at 6:30 a.m. my berry picking partner Patty and I would  be sitting on the curb waiting for Mayberry's bus to come rolling by. Our raggedy clothing was layered--cut-off  blue jeans beneath our long pants; tank tops with a t-shirt on top- with  dad's old  plaid flannel shirt as a jacket. No need to wear nice things to the field- by the end of the day we'd be dirt, head to toe, and covered with strawberry stains.
In the mornings the fields were cool and damp and the leafy plants were laden with dew, so our flannel shirts served to keep us warm and dry. As the  noon-day sun rose over the fields and began to bake them dry, we'd remove the layers and tie them about our waist, or use them as a cushions beneath our knees as we crawled along the long dirt rows between the berry plants. Often we'd leave a sweatshirt at the end of our row as a marker. In those acres and acres of berries, when you went to the outhouse, it was sometimes hard to locate our row again!

Now there's a right way and a wrong way to pick strawberries for processing. The berries you buy in the grocery store have the stems left on, which makes them stay fresh longer, but berries bound for the  canneries must be de-stemmed. The best way to pick them was to hold the bottom half of the berry in one hand while grasping the stemmed top with the other, and twisting the top off. Then while still holding the picked berry, grasping another one, and another, until you had a whole handful of berries to toss into your bucket. The work was back-breaking, so you had to change positions often. For awhile my partner and I would each take a side of the row...picking to the middle. When our knees became stiff and embedded with dirt; we'd straddle the rows and work toward one another. Then when our backs became so sore that we couldn't straighten up anymore, we'd go back to our side by side positions on our knees.
     I suppose there are now child labor laws to 'protect' children from having to work so hard. But we knew how to make it fun. Transistor radios were the newest rage, and we brought ours to the fields. We grooved to Little Deuce Coop and Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys...sang "I'm Hennery the Eighth I Am"  in unison with Herman's Hermits; and of course, the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" was our anthem. We younger girls always had a crushes on the older teenage boys, who always had crushes on the more well-endowed girls. You know the type; they wore their teeny weeny bikini tops under their t-shirts; and would wait until the boys were nearby. Then they'd complain loudly about how hot they were; while slowly and dramatically removing their tee shirts- to the whoops and hollers of the adolescent boys. I don't know how, but those girls somehow managed to keep their hair perfect throughout even the most sweltering afternoons- while the rest of got so filthy we looked like the Tar Baby in Brer Rabbit's Tale. And despite the bosses' repeated warnings, there was at least one good berry-fight every day.  The mushy, nearly rotten berries were the best ammunition- they'd splat on your enemy's shirt leaving a red stain the size of a pancake. We were sneaky though, zinging berries behind the bosses back, lest we be fired and lose our year end bonus.
     At noon-time we'd retrieve our paper lunch-sacks from the bus and finding a grassy spout under the maple trees that lined the field; eating peanut butter and jam sandwiches while joking with our friends and comparing how many flats we'd picked that morning. Our Shasta brand pop, purchased at the Safeway store for 10 cents a can, had been frozen night before; and was a refreshing, slushy treat by lunchtime. Still, one can of pop wasn't enough fluid for a long day's work, so the growers had water barrels with hand-spigots that we could drink when we were thirsty.
     We usually worked until 4 or 5 p.m.; but sometimes, if we'd finished the entire field, we'd get to go home early; maybe at 3! On those days, once home, we'd jump in a cold shower then beg our parents to take us to the lake for a cold, refreshing swim. Our parents had once been berry pickers, and knew how hard we'd worked; so often they would take us to Lake Whatcom or out to Birch Bay for a cool dip.
     The strawberry season lasted until around the 4th of July. Then came the raspberry harvest, followed by beans, cucumbers, and blueberries. I didn't work as hard as some; I only picked strawberries and raspberries. But I earned enough money to buy most of my school clothes in the fall.
     I've been told by some that we were exploited by the berry growers. I don't see it that way. We learned how to work and to work hard! How to stick with something until we were done. To know how good it feels having money that we earned ourselves, and to lighten the financial burdens of our families by buying our own clothing.  Actually, in some ways I think that our well intended labor laws have robbed our children of the opportunity to experience the feeling that comes with a job well done.
    These days there aren't as many strawberry fields in our parts. Someone invented automated raspberry picking machines; so most of the berry growers switched their fields to raspberries. It's probably more cost effective to buy a machine or two, rather than to pay hundreds of childrens and migrant workers to pick strawberries by hand.
     Nevertheless, every June I remember those strawberry pickin' days. In my memories they will always remain...Strawberry Fields Forever.

From the Curt Mayberry website--they still grow strawberries!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Rest of the Story

        One Sunday evening in 1974, in a little Assemblies of God church in a one-horse town near the base of the Cascade Mountains; a young woman walked nervously to the altar. She didn't really understand what this Christianity thing really meant; but she somehow sensed that it was her big chance. Heaven knows she'd thrown away lots of chances; but she couldn't let this one slip by-even if it meant embarassing herself  by walking down the aisle of the church in front of all these strangers.
     It was all so surreal. The night before, she'd dreamt that she was in a building with ruby-red carpeting and with coat racks by the door.  This evening, as she'd entered the church; a woman offered to take her coat. She hung it on a long rack by the door. Then she entered the sanctuary--which according to the old guy who was sitting in the back, had just been remodelled. "Yep, this  new red carpet looks real nice," he commented to another parishoner.
      Eerie. Then the service began. People were raising their hands in the air as they sang. Some were even weeping. Then somebody said something in a strange language. Then somebody else said something in English. After that, the preacher started talking. He seemed to be looking her way the whole time-it was as though he was talking directly to her-like no one else was in the room.
     A big Samoan guy named Bill Kapuni, and his wife, Sandy had invited them to this strange 'holy roller' church. Her husband John worked with Bill in the boat building plant. Now Sandy was standing in the wooden pew right next to her when the preacher asked for people to come up to the front. Sandy offered to hold the girl's young baby so she could go forward. She gently handed her the sleeping infant, slipped out of the pew, and headed toward the front of the church.
     When she reached the front of the church, with quaking knees she knelt by the prayer bench. The organ was playing softly and people behind her were singing quietly. The preacher was encouraging those who'd came forward to surrender to Jesus. "What does that mean?" she wondered. Not sure just what to do, she closed her eyes. An elderly man came up and knelt beside her. "Just tell Jesus everything,"he whispered. "He'll understand."
     So, from out of the depths of her heart, one by one, she brought all of the broken pieces of her life to Jesus-hoping that he would forgive her mistakes and find a way to fix them. She told him things she'd never shared with another soul; about the loneliness and isolation of her childhood-how different she'd always felt from her friends. And about how painful it had been to watch her Dad become sicker and sicker with emphysema-and how her world fell completely apart when they called from the hospital to say that he'd died. She wept as she recalled how Mom had said that the bit of money they'd saved up for her college fund had been used to pay medical bills- and her dreams of a college education had been dashed to pieces. How she'd given up on her life and future;  how the drugs were supposed to help her fit in with her friends and to numb the pain-but they hadn't worked. Soon sobbing uncontrollably; she confided to Jesus that now; at just 18 years old, she was married and a mother to a sweet little baby that she had no idea how to raise. All that she knew for sure was, she wanted her child to have a better life than she did.
    As she continued praying; she began to feel warmth--as though rays of sunlight were surrounding her and piercing through her skin right into her heart. Then peace...wave after wave of peace began to roll over her. After about an hour or so, most of the congregation had gone home.  Rising up from the bench-she knew Jesus had indeed heard, had understood, and had taken it all away- the guilt, the sadness, and the pain had somehow been swept away. And she knew that she would never be the same--and that she would never be alone again.

     That teen-age mother was me. I have never been the same since that night in 1975. My baby, John, is now a wonderful, successful man with a beautiful family of his own. I had two other babies; Sam and Heather; who like John, grew up to have lovely families of their own. My first marriage ended in divorce; but I later remarried a wonderful guy with two boys who have now grown up and have families of their own too!  I shudder to think of how my life, and my children's lives might have been if I hadn't met Jesus that night. Even though it certainly hasn't always been easy or perfect- He's helped me every day since then...and true to His promise, I have never been alone.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Small Things Can Become Big Things

I wanted to do something really special for a loved one today. Something really big. But I didn't have the means to do what I wanted. Then I thought about the miracle of the loaves and fishes. How a little boy gave Jesus 5 loaves and 2 fishes. From this little boy's small gift something big happened. So I decided to do what I can do; small as it is-and pray that Jesus makes something big out of it. He's really good at that.

"We can do no great things,
only small things with great love."

Mother Theresa


Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's a Salt Shaker, No-It's a Cow, No-It's a Give-away!!!

It's All Three

 Last year my sister and I had a space in an antique store, but after a year or so we decided to stop paying rent and go strictly on-line. So we moved the inventory into my home office. What a mess. Boxes piled high! I honestly couldn't get to the desk. So finally, after months of stepping over boxes, hubby and I made some shelving in the garage and spent Saturday moving the stuff. Most of it hasn't even been listed on Etsy yet...that's a project I've planned for this summer. It dawned on me the other day that I should just give some of it away. Not to just anybody; but to you...my blogger buddies.

So here's my first giveaway.

These sweet little holstein salt and pepper shakers are vintage pieces made by Otagiri--one of my favorite brands for vintage ceramics.

Here's the catch...the fine print...the rub!

 If you'd like to win these cute little bovines, please send a comment telling me why these little shakers would be perfect for you...and send a link of this post to two of your blogger friends (and note in your comment who you sent links to.) The winner will be selected randomly and will be notified in 10 days. While you're anxiously waiting to hear who won, you could pass the time by visiting my Etsy store. The link's at the bottom of this page. Good luck everyone!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Welcome to our garden, the sign says.  It really oughtta say, "Welcome, that is, unless you are a slimy black slug, or a creepy bug who likes to eat lettuce! Oh yes, and if you happen to be a pretty yellow pup who loves to chase tennis balls and dig great deep holes, this place is off limits to you too!"

I'm using an organic approach to pest control in my garden. Yellow marigolds are 'companion plantings'. Supposedly, bugs don't like they way they smell. So far, so good! I did this in response to last year's cabbage fiasco. My beautiful cabbage plants were ravaged by bugs in just a few days. This year, things are gonna be different. This year, I'm prepared. 

Though you can't see it, there are used coffee grounds sprinkled all around my plants. And I've been walking round my little pie-shaped garden with the coffee pot in hand, pouring cold coffee around the perimeter of it. Slugs don't like caffeine. I don't know why. Maybe it makes them jittery or keeps them awake at night...or maybe they start to move too fast, even begin running on their little slug feet. Why, given enough caffeine, they might even get up the energy to organize slug 10Ks and marathons with tiny screen printed tee-shirts for the participants. But the wiser slugs know that this would be a very bad thing. So they banned all coffee drinking. You just can't have speedy slugs. It's an oxymoron. Maybe I should lay off the caffeine for awhile too. Or stop writing after midnight. Slugs in t-shirts??? Is this what my writing has come to?

The cute little wire fence is to discourage a certain yellow lab from galloping through on her way to a new adventure. She hasn't jumped the fence; though she surely could. But she has stuck her head through the holes to retrieve her tennis ball-and to munch an egg shell or two.

Elsewhere, I've added this new beauty to my garden. Rudbeckia There are only about 2 really sunny spots in the back yard. Thought I'd try these more commonly known as Black-Eyed Susans there. A few days ago I posted some pics of some new curtain material I bought. These flowers match quite nicely. However, I'm not sure they really like where I planted them. Some of them look a little wilty. I just keep telling them that Mary Engelbreit always says you should 'bloom where you're planted.' A few of them are starting to believe me and have perked up. Others are needing some coaxing and lots of water. If you grow Rudbekia, I'd welcome your tips. That's Rudbeckia, not rutabaga. I don't like rutabaga--mom always threw one into the stew pot. They looked like spuds, only yellower. But rutabagas were sort of peppery tasting, not a bit to my liking. I don't know why she seemed so pleased when I accidentally ate a bite of rutabaga. It's like the potato soup. I hated clams; so Mom made chowder, but told me it was potato soup. For years I ate chowder-thinking it was potato soup. I wonder what other foods she duped me into eating?

In shadier locations (out under the 16 firs trees in the back), my begonias are feeling very content. I like the way that  blue lobelia contrasts with the orange begonia. I've been experimenting with contrasting colors lately. I used to play it safe with my baskets-sticking to similar hues. But that past couple of years I've been adding splashes of color from across the color wheel...yellows with pinks; blue with oranges, reds and purples. Which reminds me of an interesting gardening combination I saw last year. It was a row of  deep blue hydrangea with bright orange poppies. It was stunning.

Deep, rich oranges and greens. Like watermelon...scrumptious!

Iris are a childhood favorite. The purple ones were my favorite...I thought they smelled like purple Koolaid. We used to pick the leaves and have 'sword fights' with them.  Kids!!!
This yellow iris is leaning out over my lawn, looking for sunlight.

I can't seem to get enough of those rich Tuscan colors this year-indoors and out.

Remember my inspiration mug? Funny. Most of my plants were here before I bought that mug. I think subconsciously I've always loved these colors, but it took the mug to make me see it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bad Things Come in Threes? Poppycock! Start Counting Blessings.

If you read my last post, you'll know that I have a big axe to grind with negative speech.  So I thought I'd take a moment to address the old "Bad Things  Come in Threes" superstition. I hear this a lot from people who should know better. Christian folks. They'll on one hand tell you that God is in control of their destiny; and then spout this preposterous adage when something bad happens to them (or you.)

 If you aspire to this belief, I have a few questions for you...

1. When did you start counting? Have you tallied every bad thing that happens to you and organized them neatly into compartments of three?
2.  What constitutes bad? A broken fingernail, a bad hairday, or a car wreck? If this law exists, who is the arbiter of the definition of what is bad?
3.  How long must you wait for the threes to happen? Do you count something that happened last month, last week, or just yesterday?
4.  How do you keep track of the cycle?

Here's why this saying irritates me so.

It makes people start to look over their shoulders for bad things to happen. Instead of looking for the blessings in life and having an attitude of gratitude for the abundance of good things they receive daily; their expectation becomes one of 'something bad is about to happen to me.'

I think it must be insulting to God. I mean really. His blessings so abound. We have food to spare, cars, jobs, healthy children, friends, bank accounts, freedom...the list is endless. But instead of being mindful of all of these things, we report that something bad is coming up the road. Why don't we count our blessings instead?

We actually create our own misery. There are many studies (secular and faith-based) that tell us that we are largely a product of our thoughts. Why, oh why, would you want to be expecting trouble?

When something bad does happen to someone; folks who believe this will often quote this saying. I'd rather not have this type of 'encouragement' when I'm struggling with something, thank you very much!

Let's look at some good 'threes'.

The Trinity.

My three wonderful children.

Your skin. It has three layers. Many parts of our body are composed of three sections.

Waltzes. These most beautiful musical scores are written in 3/4 time. Remember learning to do the waltz...a one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three.

Still unconvinced? Read what the Bible says...

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in bardn, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?...But Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all thes things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6: 25-34

The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich; and he addeth no sorrow with it.  Proverbs 10:22 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.    Jeremiah 29:11

So relax. Uncross your fingers...stop knocking on wood...and don't worry about bad things coming your way.  Start counting your blessings instead.


Seven Secrets about Me...and Seven Blogs I Love

Linda O'Connell,  over at Write from the Heart has graciously included me in her awards for Versatile Blogger. I think she's being very kind. Nonetheless, I have gratefully accepted her award which means it is my task to link back to her, pass the award to seven blogs that I enjoy reading; and then reveal 7 secrets about moi! (Please Note: If I nominated you, and you accept the award, you'll need to do the same; which would mean 1. link back to me  2. reveal 7 secrets about yourself, and 3. name seven other recipients and notify them)

Seven Secrets about Me

1.   I got married when I was 17 years old. Had to go back and get my GED and many years later got to go to college. Kinda did things in reverse which is a little like driving with your eyes on the rear view mirror! My first marriage ended after 15 years, but I remarried; and am on my way to happily ever after with hubby Kelly; after 23 years.

2.   I was the International Sales Manager for a company with a distribution network into more than 30 nations.  Also did Materials Management and sold insurance. I gave up the corporate gig to pursue my passion; teaching children.

3.   I play the fiddle-but not as well as I'd like. I need to practice more, but this blogging thing kinda gets in the way. When I do play, Celtic, Bluegrass, and Country are my favorites.

4.   I became a Christian when I was 18 years old. It changed the entire course of my life (maybe saved my life), and the lives of my children.

5.  I need to be near the ocean. Really. The idea of being land-locked makes me feel very uncomfortable-sort of claustrophobic. Somehow when I'm by the water, I feel that I have a means of escape. I can't really say what I'm escaping-all I can say is that when I am on the beach...I feel free.

6.  When I was a child, our TV was often broken, and there were no kids my age nearby to play with. So I started doing crossword puzzles. Someone bought me a dictionary to help me with the puzzles. Then I just began reading the dictionary. Thus began my love affair with words.  I still love words.

7.  I believe that words are a powerful force for good or for evil--and that we must be responsible for what comes out of our mouth because we're bound to reap a harvest of what we've said. So I get very perturbed with folks who speak negatively, even in jest. Don't tell me that bad things come in threes, or that it's 'Murphy's law', or that you are dumb--or I just might reply that good things come in dozens-- that the blessing of the Lord maketh rich and addeth no sorrow with it--and that you are as brilliant as those flowers growing in your garden...and far more precious!

And now, without further ado, here are my Awards for The Versatile Blogger...

Chickory  is keeping it real and folksy down on the edge of the Cohutta and Big Frog- I just can't wait to see what she's gonna do next. Especially love those birds and chickens she paints!

Anneliese  from the Mennonite Girls can Cook blog, who cooks up comfort food for the soul and for the body.

teresa  of  Meadowbrook farm- born with a green thumb on one hand and a camera in the other. Her photography is breath-taking.

Jo-jo of My Random Insanities- don't let her fool you; she's saner than most- and she is an artist who paints with words.

Chris is just down the road a piece; at Redgate Farm. Shes a fellow Pacific Northwesterner with an eye for all things vintage.

Alicia  of Posie Gets Cozy  is my crafting hero. Truly. I'm in awe of how she combines colors in her knitting/crocheting/embroidery. Amazing

Leo  of Zen Habits keeps me smilin', breathin', and goin' slowly.

Ellen the Happy Wonderer whose travel photos make it like I am there; and she tells the best stories!

I know if you're the accounting type, you've noticed that I posted 8. Oh well,  you'll have to live with imperfection if you hang around here very long!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Seduction of Color

It starts innocently enough. I casually stroll past the mug in Pier One Imports. I glance it's way. What? Did that mug just wink at me? The attraction is immediate. There's something about it that draws me in; the rich, earthy colors and the almost insolent pattern...I know I must have it.

I take the mug home and set in on the kitchen counter. The infatuation grows. Terra cottas and olive greens, with a touch of hazy blues. Like a midsummer day. It speaks to me of warm sunshiny days in August, zinnias, sunflowers and lying in the grass. I need more, more more.

I hurry to the car with my mug in hand. It is my muse, my inspiration. When I enter the fabric store with my empty mug in hand; people give me sideways glances and whisper to one another. "She's carrying an empty mug! She either thinks she's in Starbucks, or she's gonna ask us for spare change." But I'm not a beggar or a crazy woman- I just want fabric--for curtains--to match the mug. Being the smart cookie that I am, I also take my Jo-Ann Fabric 50% off coupon. After searching through the decorator aisles, the discount stacks and the summer canvas's I strike gold. There, buried in the calicos...is the perfect complement to the mug...Eureka!

It's a match made in heaven. Well, perhaps I exaggerate a bit. But it's a really good match!

Be still my heart!

I once heard a designer say that people often collect things they love without ever really noticing that they are doing it. That's how people who do those re-designs with what's already in your house do it. The just look around at your stuff and usually there's and underlying theme.Have I subconsciously collected these colors all along? Lets look around...

 The strawberry pot on the deck.
More prints
More prints.

Yup. It's all over the place.

This winter is set for our kitchen remodel. I'm thinkin' terra-cotta tile floors, burnt orangey swirly pendant lights. Olive walls (they are already), rich umbers and espresso browns...

Seduction of colors...that's how it starts.


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