Sunday, January 30, 2011

a queen's kitchen

It's funny how things "bother" you.  For years the rusted hinges and grungy hardware on our kitchen cabinets were like a burr under a saddle.  When Eldest Son was putting in granite countertops in our kitchen, we decided this was the time to replace the hardware. The thing that really "sealed the deal" was 1. a small bonus at work to cover the cost, and 2. the Gardener bought himself a small power screwdriver. What a difference it made to an otherwise tedious project.
It dressed the cabinets up so much I'm not even sure they need that coat of paint I was thinking they did.
I'm keeping this little blackboard painted plate in the kitchen to let Eldest know how
 much we appreciate his gift to us!
I feel a little like a queen working in a kitchen as nice as this, though I'm fairly certain that queens don't cook!
Connecting to Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday

Thursday, January 27, 2011

the wedding present

A Pennsylvania cabinet maker's young daughter was about to be married, so the story goes. The year was 1878. The cabinet maker was declining in health but desired to make one more thing, a wedding present for his daughter and her bridegroom. So he worked in his little shop to transform a piece of mahogany into a beautiful oval table for the newlyweds' parlor. He wanted much detail to make the table stand out as one-of-a-kind so he used his lathe to crimp curls and curves, creating quite a showpiece and intricate areas for dusting.

When it came time for the no longer young bride and groom to break up their home, the table went to their daughter who enjoyed using it in her front hall. Upon her death, the table was taken by a son and sadly fell into some mishap or "disrepair." The son knew of his brother's great love for family heirlooms, so as a gift to his brother, he had the table repaired and refinished into a piece of great beauty once again.  One day he visited his brother and gifted him with the refurbished table.  The brother and his wife enjoyed the table so much. Eventually the brother died and his wife moved to a small apartment. Then came time for her to move to assisted living and for her children to "break up" her home.

The latest installment of this slightly embellished story is the most recent move of this parlor table to my house a few weeks ago. It is quickly becoming my favorite piece of furniture, partly because of the story behind it. Yes, that was my great-great-grandfather who made it for my great-grandmother, and then I saw it in my grandmother's front hall everytime I went up or down the stairs, then in my parents home, and finally now in my house. I wonder where it will go next.

Connecting to My Romantic Home for other "Show and Tells."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the story of the silver spoon

Little One and I enjoy having tea together. I have a tiny porcelin tea set I let her play with and she's learned to pour the "tea" (keeping one finger on the lid), dump in "sugar and cream" and take a sip to check the temperature. "It's too hot!" she'll often say with great drama.

So when I saw a little tea set at WM looking a lot like fiestaware I could not resist buying it  thought I'd give it to her at Christmas. She opened it on Christmas Eve and what fun she had pouring, dumping sugar and cream, sipping and serving all of us.

As I watched her play, I got to thinking how sweet it would be if we had a little 
teaspoon on scale to the tea set that she could use to spoon the "sugar" into the 
cups and stir the tea. But where would I find such a thing?

The next morning, with guests around the breakfast table, I was telling about 
a bag of worn out silver cutlery a friend had given me when she moved to Europe. 
A relative had given them to her and they were in need of a good polish. 
I got out the bag and was sifting through them when I saw this:
Apparently little salt servers. I could hardly believe it! Christmas morning, 
just hours after she opened her present of the tea set.
Perfect to scale I might add! And there were two: one to send home with Little One, and a spare.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

take four

Little One is not so little anymore!

Go to Little Red House to see more Monday Mosaics

Saturday, January 22, 2011

neighbor bread

I came home pretty tired from a busy day at work. Winter weather is on the horizon, so babies have decided to be born. They were wheeled in the door of the nursery almost non stop. So I was wearily thinking about what to make for supper. We had some left overs. Should I develop them into a major meal (sigh), or turn them into a big pot of soup? "If only I had some good bread to go with it, soup would be the ticket," I said to the Gardener. Went on up to my little office to check email. I figured somehow by the time I finished up, I would know what to do about supper. Just as I turned off the computer, the doorbell rang. It was Danielle [formerly] from across the street, armed with a loaf of cool rise French bread , JUST out of the oven (and some brownies on the side!) She had been baking!

The aroma of warm bread filled the house as I pulled out a pot and began the soup. Hmmm ... just right for a cold night with a storm in the air. Thank you, Lord, and thank you, good neighbor!

First published three years ago this week. See Chari's Happy to Design for more Sunday re-runs.

Friday, January 21, 2011

blog influence

I love reading a blog called In A Garden. There is always something interesting there, 
including a wonderful look out the kitchen window. When I read this recipe for Chicken 
Almond soup yesterday I just had to make it. All the ingredients were on hand. 
It was so delicious. From one side of the country to the other, a recipe "flown to roost." 
Amazing, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

porch fare

A simple dinner on my sister's porch.
I think she loves her Johnson Brothers Indies pattern now as much as the day 
38 years ago when she registered for it. I know I do.
It looks like it might be tacos tonight.
Sometimes a simple candle or oil lamp is the best centerpiece of all, 
adding soft light and ambience when the sun begins to set.
Her salads are a thing of beauty, and tasty too.

Please see Between Naps on the Porch for more wonderful tablescapes!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

at the p.o.

A clump of little silver bells jingles pleasantly every time the door opens. Once I'm inside my senses are met with wonderful scents and soft music. There's not a flourescent light in the place, and the carpet is soft under my feet. I join a short line and look at the four women (and one man) wearing aprons at the counters. I'm at a post office "store" that I discovered in a nearby town. I try to save all my postal business for the days I'm in that town because it is simply delightful there. Seems I often go on a rainy day, and the place is just a whopping dose of coziness.

I watch carefully hoping that when my turn comes it's a woman whose station is free. Seems the women are not just strictly business like the man tends to be. They let me take my time picking out stamps; it's obvious they have the same appreciation of stamp beauty that I do. We may talk about who I'm mailing my package to, the new stamps, or some other chit chat. Last time I was there each woman opened her drawer in search of a cartoon stamp for me to use on my niece's birthday card. Before long they were all laughing and carrying on about it. And the women seem to understand it takes a few seconds to gather things together before leaving the counter.

On the way out, there is a whole counter of resale things, soft chairs to sit on, and a table for kids to play at. Whoever planned this place knew what they were doing.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


In the upper left corner is an image of my great grandparents and my great aunt. That is NOT how they dressed; they were on a visit back to their homeland of Holland and were in traditional dress for a photograph--probably a tourist thing. My great grandfather came from Holland as a very young man, with a pocketful of "trinkets" to sell door-to-door as he created a life for himself in the new world.

I've been scanning some old photos lately as I work on a blog of our family history. Such curiosity I have about those in my family who have lived before me.  In these photos you see my great grandparents' house; my grandpa taking a picture of my great aunts (a large age gap between them) and my mother (tallest girl standing with a short brown bob). Also my great-grandfather with his (horse and cart) construction company. How interesting it would be to spend a day ... or two or three ... living with them!

See Little Red House for more interesting mosaics.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Amazing here in the south to see snow on the ground for a week! While the main roads are clear, one still needs to drive carefully through neighborhoods as patches of ice still line the street. As I drove home last night, the lights from houses and street lights reflecting on frozen yards was noteworthy. It looked like a sea of skating rinks. Even though our temperatures remain low, the sun is slowly doing its work. It's also a reminder that spring will come. Meanwhile, I, at least, am enjoying this "real" winter!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


There is such a feeling of newness or renewal as the new year dawns and the holidays fade away. For us it's been good to move things around a bit as we transition some of my mother's things into our home (she has moved to assisted living.) We fit her pieces in as we move others around ... a sort of "shopping the house." (I found myself shopping the house a bit with my Christmas gifts this year, finding objects meaningful to me that would also be pleasing to friends I know well--it was a lot of fun!) For sure our attic is stuffed fuller than it was as we put some things aside for later decisions. And it feels, just a bit, like a new house. It seems like home more than ever. I find myself wondering if that's due to the familiar furniture from my youth now gracing our home, or if it's just because it is ... home !

Photo: We moved this mirror and my favorite old wobbly chest to the upstairs hallway. The mirror is hanging higher than I would have chosen, but the Gardener did the hanging and he believes mirrors are to be looked into. With a foot difference in our heights we compromised. I'll see the top part of my head, and he'll see the lower part of his!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

bread and milk

It's a standard joke here in the south that everyone flocks to the store for bread and milk when any mention of snow is made by weather people. I heard recently that double amounts of bread and milk are now delivered when a storm is imminent. Maybe that's why when we went to the store on the eve of the storm, there seemed to be plenty of both. I remember in the past the shelves would be empty. We've been "low-carbing" it for months now, but for some reason we found ourselves at the grocery looking for oatmeal bread. Comfort food I guess, and we enjoyed french toast for breakfast.
 I haven't made that in years.

The "icing on the cake" is that our beautiful snow now has been glazed over with a coat of ice. No school tomorrow again, and with our cold temperatures hanging around, it will be awhile until it melts. Here in the south snowplows are strangers to side streets. We wait for the thaw.
We may be in for a day or two more. Not complaining.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

golden locks

Over the holidays we had five little girl cousins under one roof. I discovered I had these 
pictures of the back of their heads (four of the five) showing their cute hairdos.  
Number five, the littlest (four months old), was most likely napping.

Connecting to Mary's Little Red House's Monday Mosaics.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

generation after generation

I wish I could have expressed this as well as Helen Thames Raley does:  "Deep are these roots, inescapable, restorative. I thought about how life had gone on, generation after generation. Perhaps the past is really never gone, but always a part of the present. Lingering here in the quietness, 
I gather up the people, the places, the little fragments of another time."  

Photo: My grandparents, aged 22,  with their first baby. See the water pump, the washing machine, 
and other evidence of living around them? How I would love to spend a day 
with my grandmother as a young mother!

Reposting this from January two years ago. Connecting to Chari's Sunday Favorites at Happy to Design

Thursday, January 06, 2011

angels in a black jeep

     The January "snow storm of the century" took us all by surprise. The Gardener was oblivious to it all, traveling on the other side of the world. As I spent a cold evening alone and without electricity, I wrote letters by candlelight, frequently peering out the window at the fairyland of white and ice. I felt like I was in a scene from Dr. Zhivago. The stillness was profound, interrupted only by the wind and a fairly regular snap, crackle, and thud.

     I had such a feeling of helplessness, knowing the trees would fall where they would. But I also was filled with a wonderful peace. It helps me to visualize things in my prayers, and as I prayed for protection, I could almost see a band of angels swarming around my house, shooing away the falling trees.
     My sleep that night was interrupted only by the really loud thuds. As long as the house didn't shake I felt OK staying in my warm bed. The next morning was welcome after a strangely serene, yet terrifying night. Sunlight does one a world of good, and the day was bright with the glistening snow.
     I surveyed the mess. Trees, limbs, branches ... everywhere ... like a white Hugo (a hurricane our city survived years ago). My neighbor was nice about our tree sprawled across his yard. "When my husband gets back we'll take care of it," I assured him. He offered his help as well. But I was disheartened thinking of all my weary husband would face after his long journey. I told God my concerns, trying to let peace win over my helpless feelings as I looked at all there was to be cleaned up.
     That afternoon a black jeep suddenly appeared in our driveway. Two young men climbed out armed with a power saw. They offered to cut up the fallen tree and stack it neatly at the curb. After we dickered on a fair price. I proceeded to watch, astounded, as these energetic young guys made short work of the fallen tree. They came and were gone in less than a half-hour.
     What made these guys drive down to my cul-de-sac at the far edge of a neighborhood? I had a strong sense that God had heard my concerns and sent them just for me. I know God cares for us, protects us, and always has our best interest in mind, but it is "so cool" when He gives us such an obvious demonstration! He sent me two "angels" in a black jeep on a cold, snowy day.

Written about a snow storm a few years ago ... 

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

things that go bump in the day

"Szzzzz ...."  I remember the story our friends told. They were living in Kenya and one night they woke to the sound of "szzz." They were sure it was one of those big snakes ... but the room was dark. There was great suspense mingled with some fear as they grabbed a stick, or maybe it was a flashlight, and began their search. They had us on the edge of our seats listening to the tale. Eventually they found their snake --- it was a spray can gone awry.

I thought of this story yesterday when I heard a new rattle in the car as I headed out to do some errands. It sounded very tinny--as if a small piece of metal had come loose. At the first stop I got out and checked the hubcap on the side where I heard the noise, and then looked in the trunk and back seat. All was well. It seemed even worse when I started to drive again. I called the Gardener, "Have you heard any new sounds in the car?" as I described the noise to him. (Of course he hadn't -- in our house I am always the one to hear the noise first). I slowed down, braked, started, braked. The sound seemed even more intense and closeby. WHAT was falling apart? I turned towards the passenger side of the car where the rattling seemed loudest.

What  to my wondering eyes did appear but a metal serving piece I was delivering to a friend, sitting on the passenger seat right beside me. I laughed aloud at my "dit-zi-ness" and just had to call the Gardener to tell him my foolishness. He sighed.

Photo: the culprit doing what it was meant to do.
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