Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Bringing Light To The Dark Days

It sounds like parts of the northeastern USA are preparing for huge amounts of snow.  Apparently we in NC are included in that storm system.  Although we are seeing it in the liquid form of rain.  If you are in the path of the heavy snow, I am thinking of you today.  With all that we are currently dealing with this holiday season, power outages and other storm related issues are the last thing needed.

 In an effort to bring a little light to this dreary day, I went around the house this morning and lit a few candles and overrode a few of the timers to cheer things up a bit.

This little garden snowman has his mower ready to assist those of you who need help clearing your walks and driveways.  Any takers?

I had fun decorating this area for the first time this year.
This is the view from the kitchen into the "smart space".  That's the fancy name for laundry room.  Considering that I do laundry, work my job daily, check my home computer, wrap gifts, pot houseplants and store much of my seasonal home decor, gift wrap, office supplies, laundry supplies, cleaning supplies and books I guess it is a pretty smart use of space : ).  
The door goes into the garage.  The built in bench is a great spot to put on or take off your shoes.

Since I do spend a lot of time in here it seemed an ideal spot to spread a bit of Christmas cheer.  Even better to make it vintage Christmas cheer.  So I selected some of my favorite old ornaments to hang on the tabletop tree.  The wreath hung there a few days when I had a lightbulb moment.  Literally.  Last year my neighbor had given me a strand of battery operated lights with little clothespins attached.
I decided to put them to use on my wreath to display some of my cherished old Christmas cards.

Ah, the good old days when we looked forward to receiving cheerful Christmas greetings in our mailbox all month long.  I'm one of the people who has been holding onto that tradition even though I see it declining more every year.  This year I bought the cards early.  When it came time to prepare them for sending, the motivation was nowhere to be found.  I found every excuse I could think of to avoid the task.  But, since I had bought the cards I was going to send them.
I've been dragging the task along all week.  Most have been mailed and the rest will be done today.  Last night I was reading about how overwhelmed the post office is.  Chances are the last of my cards will be late to arrive.
Bah Humbug!

I know a lot of us have wondered whether it was worthwhile to decorate when the holiday visitors would be in short supply or non-existent.  I'm glad we went ahead and decorated as usual.  There is a certain comfort to be found in the decorations collected through the years.   Plus, the lights are beautiful every day.  Starting in early December I begin the day with my cup of coffee in front of the lighted Christmas tree.  Evenings are often spent watching a Christmas movie with all of the Christmas lights glowing.  Christmas lights will always be magical to me.  Perhaps more than ever this year.


Monday, December 7, 2020

Holly Jolly

While I was getting my outside morning light today, I collected some greenery from the garden.  Rosemary and two types of holly. Back when I chose the plants for my garden space, I put a lot of thought into favorite plants that would serve more than one purpose. In other words, they needed to be not only pretty, but also be something that could provide bouquets, be edible, provide shade, encourage beneficial insects, be food for the birdies...  Well, you get the idea. With such a small garden, it was an exercise in restraint.

Hollies that provided beautiful berries made it onto the list.
We grew many different hollies in our last garden.  They do well in our naturally acidic soil.  Even though there were several varieties, I was usually hard pressed to find berries to use at Christmastime.  Sometimes the birds beat me to them and sometimes the plants didn't produce.  Therefore, I researched a size suitable for this garden and learned they were best planted with a male and female plant in close proximity.  When they were planted last summer they looked a bit scraggly.  But, it seems they did whatever they had to do to produce some beautiful red berries.  I was able to clip enough sprigs for an arrangement and there are still plenty for the birds.


Just the pop of red I was looking for and the rosemary is adding a nice pop of fragrance.

How are your holiday decorating plans progressing?


Monday, November 16, 2020

Pretty Sunsets and Thanksgiving Plans

Late yesterday afternoon Brett & I went out for a walk.  By the time we got home the sun was setting in a spectacular fashion.  It occurred to me that had I stayed inside working on my puzzle I might have missed it entirely.  We've decided that timing our walks around sunset would be a good idea from now on.  

The holiday cactus that spent the summer outside is now in full bloom.  I'm sure it will be done before Thanksgiving so wanted to capture it's beauty while I can.  

Like most people our Thanksgiving will look  a bit different this year.  At first I thought why bother with all of the cooking and baking when it will just be three of us.  Brett suggested ordering the complete meal from the supermarket.  I was briefly tempted until I started thinking about my favorite aspects of our Thanksgiving traditions.  High on that list is the scent of the turkey roasting hours before the meal is served.  To me, it heightens the anticipation of the delicious meal we have to look forward to.  It is also a comforting smell reminding me that even though the people gathered around the table changes through the years, the reason for the celebration remains the same.  While I realize it might be tempting to think that there isn't a lot to be thankful for this year, perhaps it's more important than ever to look for the silver lining.

This week I'm looking forward to finalizing our menu.  The traditional elements will all be there on, perhaps, a smaller scale.
It feels good to have something to plan for.

If you will be celebrating Thanksgiving I'd love to hear about your plans.  

Wishing you all a good week ahead.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Office Views

Here you see my home office.  (try to contain your excitement :).
The window above my desk looks out onto a small hill that has been planted with field grasses and a few trees. Normally while working I keep the blind raised less than halfway to keep the outside light out of my eyes.  It's nice to have a view to the outside, but not a lot changes with field grass from day to day.  It does seem to attract a fair share of butterflies in the summer and field mice love to hide out in there.  Once in a while I see them darting around.  Other than that, not too exciting.

After finishing my work yesterday I went to close the blind when a golden glow caught my eye.  As the sun began to set it illuminated the crest of my little hill.  The sky was turning black and, although it wasn't raining, a beautiful rainbow was forming.  Rather than shut the blind, I raised it higher to get a better look.
I sat a moment and wondered how long this beauty had been developing unbeknownst to me.

 As I knew it would be mere moments before the sunlight was gone completely I decided to sit and gaze out a bit longer.  Out of the corner of my eye I sensed movement and then noticed somebody looking my way.  My first thought was a dog.  


As he made his way down the hill headed back into the woods, his big bushy tail gave away his real identity.


Seems maybe I have underestimated the views on the other side of the blinds.  I'll be paying closer attention from now on.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Early November Garden Notes

Between pandemic fatigue and politics, I think we could all use a little escape.  One of the best escapes for me is nature and the garden.

The summer annuals have been pulled in anticipation of our first frost.  The nights are getting down into the low 30s so it won't be long.
In their place we've planted pansies.
Their cheery little faces are sure to be a bright spot through the winter and into spring.
It's hard to choose a favorite color.  Just when I'm sure it is that violet one above...

I wonder if it might not be the two toned purple one.
Actually, I like the two of them together.

While many plants in the garden are done for the season, the camellias are just getting started.  Loaded with buds with one bloom unfurling.  Yesterday I gave them a sprinkling of fertilizer to help them along.

Last week brought two days of strong winds.  Many of the leaves came down before they reached their peak.
Although my hummingbird feeder is still in place, the sweet little hummers headed for warmer climates in early October.  They will be greatly missed.

My Christmas cactus spent the summer in a shady spot on the patio.  This is how it looked on October 22nd.  Little buds forming on the leaf tips.  How exciting!!

After spending a few nights in the garage, I submerged the pot in a bucket of lukewarm water for 15 minutes.  Supposedly this will make any creepy crawlers come out of the soil.  Then I let it drain well in the garage overnight and sprayed it with insecticidal soap.  This morning I moved it to it's indoor home.  It will bloom before Christmas, but I have found this to be such a surefire way to get it to provide an abundant amount of blooms each year.  This plant was one I picked up at Aldi last year.  It has come a long way since then.

Another houseplant that spent the summer on the patio is my Norfolk Pine.  I have had this for years and years.  It was a little tiny plant I picked up from Lowe's to use as part of a Christmas display.  It's kind of been hanging in there all these years without growing too much.

It seems to have benefitted from it's summer vacation.
I prepared it to come in from the cold the same way as I did the cactus.  This year I may even be able to decorate it for Christmas.


I hesitate to share what's been (ahem) popping up in my side garden.
But every day there seems to be more.
Not quite sure what to say about this.  Although I do think if these made an appearance at a gender reveal party it would be easy to guess the result.
Okay, sorry.  I just couldn't resist.

Moving right along...

Well, that about concludes our garden escape.
That doesn't, however, mean that we can't carry on with escaping from reality a bit longer.
As our presidential election in the U.S. looms on the horizon, the ugliness and division has been hard to get away from.  As much as I am ready for this election to be over, there is a sense of unease at what will happen next.  Our ballots were cast weeks ago.  We each spent the better part of a day researching the candidates and making our best informed decisions.  The ballots were mailed and tracked until we were advised that they had reached their destination.  Not much more we can do now except wait.
While waiting I plan to avoid the news as much as possible in favor of quieter pursuits.


Happy November!

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloween 2020

Once upon a time I might have wondered what type of surgery was being performed here by these masked people.  
When I look back, my 2020 vision will remind me that this is the way we painted pottery.

Home again displaying the masterpieces.
We went with the plan that Jaxson would paint a jack o' lantern, but soon everybody got in on the action.

Jaxson LOVES Halloween so during his recent visit we did our best to make memories.  He rode his dinosaur out to the patio for a photo shoot.  You can see the foliage in the early stages of fall splendor in the background.

Cookie decorating gave us another opportunity to be creative and make memories together as a family.  


No doubt about it, 2020 has been filled with tricks.
For Halloween we are focusing on the treats.

Hope your day holds a few special treats too.


Happy Halloween!


Monday, October 19, 2020

House Hunting

After many years of living in a condo in the city, my son has decided that he is ready to buy his first house.  We have been happy to tag along as his search gets underway.
The house above was one that we looked at over the weekend.
After taking the virtual tour I could hardly wait to see it in person.
Seems I wasn't alone.  Right after it went up for sale the showing calendar was nearly full.  We were able to get an early morning appointment so off we went.

As soon as I walked in I was charmed by the details.
The leaf cabinet pulls and tiles gave the kitchen some personality.
The stained glass piece was an interesting valance over the kitchen sink window.

I wouldn't mind doing dishes here one little bit.

This house had so many interesting little touches.
The inlaid leaves on the first step of the staircase were so unique.

The little shelves under the staircase housed a small collection of  kaleidoscopes.

Often when selling a home we are told to put away all of our personal objects so the prospective buyer can picture themselves living there.
I understand that thinking, but sometimes I tend to disagree.
When I saw this area of the great room I knew instantly that this would be where morning coffee would be enjoyed.  Nestled in between two windows overlooking the lake with those sweet little shelves tucked into the corner.  Swoon!!

In another area of the great room the homeowner positioned a desk behind the sofa, all of which overlooked the lake.  Very nice.
But, what really caught my eye here is the interesting bookcase set-up.  I am always drawn to a closer look when it comes to bookcases.

As a kid I would have loved this little built in child sized reading spot.  There was even a wall mounted reading light in there.  I was very curious to know what was behind those little doors.  I know if I lived here it would be my collection of vintage children's books.

Another swoon worthy feature was this little playhouse on the property.  So sweet.

A wee little sparkly witch sat on the entry mirror.


Despite all of the special touches, this house isn't the right fit for my son.  Later in the day we looked at another house which fit his needs better.  Last night he put an offer in.  It was a very nice house too, but vacant.  Not nearly as fun to take pictures in ; ).

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Kitchen Views

That space above the kitchen cupboards seems to follow trends just like everything else home decor related.
In my last house I was thrilled to finally have that space to play with.
Didn't take long to fill it with plenty of fake ivy and assorted kitchen themed objects.
It was a source of pleasure for years until the day it looked like a bunch of clutter.  Dusty clutter at that.  Who wants to get way up there and dust?  Not me.  So down it all came.  For the next few years it was a welcome relief to see nothing but empty space up there.

Now, it's been almost two years since I moved into this house.
There are a lot of white cabinets in this kitchen with a lot of long walls of space above them.
After awhile it seemed something was lacking up there.
After watching this video I learned that decorating up there is back in vogue, although the rules have changed since the fake ivy days :).

Seems like now it is all about:
- Vignettes
- Varying Heights
- A Cohesive Style

I like the idea of some texture and less color in my vignettes.  Just something interesting without a jolt of color.  
This was our weekend project.  Brett raided the construction dumpsters for 2 by 4s and plywood.  He then constructed platforms to raise the vignettes up.  He went up the ladder while I handed things to him and indicated a little right, a bit to the left... just right.
My part of the job was easy, other than worrying about falls off the ladder or the countertops.  Geesh, I don't remember worrying about that when I used to do it by myself walking on the countertops while hanging onto the crown moldings.  Just another reminder that we're not as young as we used to be.  The only benefit to that is when the dust and cobwebs start to settle up there we won't be able to see it as well.