Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Tribute

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast,
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray,
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair,
Upon whose bosom snow has lain,
Who intimately lives with the rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Joyce Kilmer

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them,
whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.
They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred
by particulars, the ancient law of life.
Herman Hesse

For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider,
every green tree is far more glorious
than if it were made of gold or silver.
Martin Luther
We had to cut down a huge oak tree in the front yard today. It had been struck by lightning and was weeping from a disease so it had to go before it fell on somebody. The old tree was home to birds and squirrels and shaded the front yard from afternoon sun. It will be sadly missed.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Kid On The Block

There's a new blog out there that's well worth reading. Now, just because it's my brother, don't think I'm biased (even though I am). He's drawing on a deep well of knowledge and experience as the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Brunswick, Georgia. So far he's written on keeping The Lord's day, singing the Psalms, pride, educating your children, and the sanctity of life. So please go visit his blog and give him an "atta boy" for stepping out and spreading the good word.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Forcing The Issue

Ready to bring a little green and sunshine into your winter? Just use some garden objects and bring the outdoors in. With a couple of terracotta pots and some greenery cut from shrubs or store-bought ferns, a dreary winter landscape can turn as warm as a summer day. Gardening books with pictures of lush flower beds can remind us of what to look forward to.

Use the garden statuary that's taken on an aged patina to add interest to a vignette.

Try some clipped boxwood or ivy in a small vase under a bell jar. Voila! Dreary just became delightful.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


For all you homeschooling families out there and those of us who love'em , here's a little inspiration.

Thanks to the hilarious Tim Hawkins.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Careful! Your Age Is Showing

It's funny the things that reveal someone's age. Favorite doll growing up: Chatty Cathy - you're 50's, Cabbage Patch - you're 30's, Strawberry Shortcake - I don't want to talk about it.
Television shows are the same way. Try to talk to someone in their 20's about Captain Kangaroo, Jackie Gleason, or Johnny Carson and you may notice they are texting the nursing home on their cell phone. Looney Tunes might be your favorite cartoon if you remember having only three channels and channel 17 on UHF. But if you grew up with 300 channels then you probably favor Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Tiny Toons. Do you remember being so excited about watching The Wizard Of Oz once a year (in pajamas, on the floor) or every day for a month courtesy of a VCR?
How about favorite shoes from school days. PF Flyers and Buster Brown? Or are you from the Keds and Nike generation? If it's Reefs....once again, I don't want to talk about it.
It is fun to look through catalogs with toys from way back when kids didn't wear seatbelts or bike helmets. But when they start filling up with toys from our children's childhood that's when nostalgia becomes irritation. Is anyone really pining for the good ol' days of the '80s? Not me............I got rid of those jackets with the big shoulder pads a long time ago. And today is just fine with me no matter what my birth certificate says.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Taking Off The Gloves

Around the beginning of December there were lots of parties and get togethers on the horizon so I decided to get some pretty pink and white fingernails put on to go with the pretty outfits I'd be wearing. The only time I've ever had naturally pretty nails was during pregnancy and since that's not happening again, fake nails is the answer for hands that don't look like they belong to a potato farmer.
There's much sacrifice in having pretty fingernails, though. Number one sacrifice: no scratching. These thick, dull nails just don't do the job on those little itches. They also make taking contacts out of your eyes tricky. There's no fine touch on these babies. Fake nails are the major cause of soft contact lens fatalities. And you can forget about pulling those little stickers off of fruit. Just go ahead and get out the tweezers if you don't want paper with your pear. The list of drawbacks goes on and on. Typing, buttoning, gluing, and closing the shower door all require a bit of finesse.
So, decision time is here. Do I keep the nails and develop a first-name basis relationship with the nail lady? or.............. Do I loose the nails and regain all the function of my fingers?
The answer is right there in front of me; I'm just sorry to see the only little bit of glamour about me go.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Stamp Of Approval

Stamps have such amazing graphic punch. They are tailor-made for mixed media artwork. From stamp covered boxes to stamps in collages, their color and detail add interest to any project.These English stamps have an embosed look.
Color and architectural the aquaducts.
This Phillipine fruit stamp has such great vintage graphics.
These have a fantastic printmaker quality.
These Nigerian stamps have a beautiful portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.
Gorgeous color!

More Nigerian stamps with everything under the sun.....shells, people, flowers, musical intruments, insects, and more.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's Citrus Time In The City

or Fruit, Glorious Fruit!
It's time for citrus fruit and we have a bumper crop this year. There are Meyer lemons, navel oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, and Valencia oranges growing in our yard and they're all loaded this year with beautiful fruit. Hubby loves to make juice with the oranges and grapefruit and you have never seen anything disappear so fast. It's just like the song says.....liquid sunshine. I can't get enough of the lemons. I put the juice on, chicken, salad, vegetables, cereal (Ha!what a knee-slapper!). My daughter makes the most delicious BBQ sauce with it.
Fruit even takes the place of flowers while the cutting garden is resting.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Inspiration Point

Need some fresh inspiration for your home decorating and gardening this year? How about for your artwork? There are some wonderful events coming up in the next few weeks that will inspire some nest fluffing . Here are the links to check them out. First, in Atlanta, it's the 21st Annual Southeastern Flower Show being held Wednesday, January 30-Sunday, February 3, 2008. You'll find it at the Georgia World Congress Center downtown. The theme is Imagine that! and will include landscaped gardens, floral designs, shopping, and demonstrations. The website has a video that shows just how wonderful it's going to be.

Next, you won't want to miss the Edward Hopper exhibit at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. The National Gallery is on the Mall next to the Natural History Museum. This exhibit focuses on Hopper's best works including the recognizable Nighthawks.

An event that's been around for a long time is the Natchez Pilgrimage Tour. Not only can you visit 25 fabulous Antebellum Mansions, but also see the historic Pageant with live singing and dancing. There's a blues festival, gospel performances, and comedy plays at the Little Theatre. The Pilgrimage takes place from March 8-April 12.

And in Napa Valley the Terra Valentine Winery lives up to it's name with a St. Valentines Day Party, Saturday, February 9. Last year they released two wines call Amore and Marriage at the event. Wouldn't it be fun to spend Valentines Day at a winery in Napa?
If something special is happening near you, please blow a kiss and let everyone know about it.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Bargains Galore!

The bargain bug finally bit. I've cruised the internet sites for Christmas clearance deals and actually put sparkly shiny things in the cart.....only to have the angel on my shoulder remind me that I don't really need that trinket.
The will power finally paid off when something came along that we really need.

Hubby has been asking for an area rug in the family room for about a year but the perfect storm of price and decorative excellence just hadn't come along.
Then, there it was, right there in the Pottery Barn Weekly...... the perfect combination of color, size, and price. An amazing turn was that in an effort to save the $25 shipping fee from the catalog, the rug was even more of a bargain bought straight from the store.

The last one in the store is now in my family room being all warm and cuddly around our toes.

Best part: Hubby's reaction......he loved it! He knows a good thing when he sees it. Wise, wise man.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Be Still

Be still and know that I am God. That's what I'm working on......calming down.
All the frantic activity of the holidays and cleaning up after the holidays has taken it's toll. I'm moving in fast forward. Everything has to be done NOW.
Well, I'm shifting gears and changing my tune......willfully.
The first step was listening to a message by David Platt that BooMama recommended. Thank you!
Now that my feet are back on the ground, it's time to focus on what really relationship with God. Bible study starts back up on January 10th and not a moment too soon. Even though I walk around talking to God constantly with the usual Concerned Mom talk like: Please keep Jack from breaking anything like glasses or legs while he's snowboarding today OR Please don't let an avalanche fall down the mountain on Wes, sometimes it needs to be talk about Him and me.
It's back to basics today..... just some quiet time and the Word.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Math Helpers

One of the precious children next door is a third grader trying to learn her multiplication tables. She showed me how she was writing them in lists to memorize them, which is a good method, but I thought she deserved a little more fun in her schoolwork .
On Jan Brett's website there are loads of great projects and tools for teachers and students. Jan is a gifted children's author and illustrator with titles such as Annie And The Wild Animals, The Mitten, and The Night Before Christmas to name a few.
I found math flashcards for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and printed the multiplication set. All you have to do is fold and tape the cards and cut them to a size comfortable for little hands. They are illustrated with cute animals from Jan's books that give extra clues for memorization. I just popped them in a zip lock bag so my little neighbor can practice in the car or while her brothers are at soccer practice.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Winter Has Arrived

If you're thinking about a little trip to Florida, you might want to hold off. We're right in the middle of our three day winter and it's freezing down here. Yesterday afternoon everyone was frantically running around covering their gardenias and jasmines and pygmy date palms. What if we don't have enough sheets?! Some people were frantically running to the store to buy those fake logs wrapped in paper for their fireplaces. A chimney sweep is a lonely job in Vacationland.
I just took the garbage out and had to wear a sweater. Imagine that! I even had to wear closed toed shoes. This pedicure with the cute little snowmen on bright red polish is going to waste. I could have saved myself alot of time by just going with plain red. Fashion definitely suffers when the temperature drops. My hair has even drooped due to the lack of humidity.
Well, if we can stick it out this will all be over in a few days. My strategy is to huddle by the fire with my Williams-Sonoma hot chocolate I got for Christmas(with handmade chocolate marshmallows) and read The Greenwich Village Reader my darling daughter brought me from her trip to NYC. I'll finally get to use the throw my son gave me last year. I get the feeling I'll look like a character out of a Charles Dickens novel. All I need is a nightcap.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Cinnabar Box

Here's a little short story to read in front of the fire.

The apartment building was entered through a heavy multi paned door that was never locked. Even though the apartment was on the first floor, there was a short flight of steps to climb, then the long hallway. It was the last door on the right. Walking down the hall required some decisions; step on the black or white tiles? Should she leap or hop from tile to tile? Whichever she chose, the noise from her gait echoed off the high ceilings and glossy painted walls. When the five-year-old girl finally reached the last door on the right, she was greeted with a hug by her grandmother and ushered through the tiny hall into the large parlor.
She entered a room that was altered just for her. Squeezed in front of the ivory damask Empire sofa where her great grandmother usually was taking a nap, was an old checkerboard topped card table with crayons and coloring book laid out. These were meant to keep her busy, but her curiosity made her want to open closet doors and bureau drawers. What secrets were hiding just beyond her reach? There was a story to go with every hidden treasure, from her grandmother who had lived a much grander life before moving north during the war.
The furniture in the room was an odd mix of heavy, almost black stained Empire chairs with needlepoint cushions, and delicate feminine Hepplewhite tables and chests. A striking octagonal topped table with a heavily carved pedestal sat at one end of the sofa with the grandmother's cane rocker next to it. Some was from the great grandmother's home, the other from the grandmother's. They had to leave most of their things behind when they moved from "back home" to the city. The absence of detail about the moving days told the girl that it had been a heart-breaking time for the old ladies. She was to learn later in life that the older lady carried the pain of lost children and a husband lost to excess, then heart disease. But with all that, there was no bitterness in her; she had sweet eyes and an open heart.
The girl was spending time with her relatives because she was suffering loss too. Her big brother was lying in the children's ward of the hospital across the street. Even though he was only eighteen months older than her, she felt she hardly knew him. Since she was a toddler, he had been gone, seeing doctors or staying in the hospital. When he was home, he was being tutored during the little bit of time he wasn't sleeping. The drugs that kept him alive stole what little bit of childhood he would be given. She called him "Bubba" and wanted to play and talk to him but wasn't allowed.
She remembered the day she realized he would not live long. It was Christmastime and the tree was being decorated. The house was festive and everyone was chattering away cheerfully about things she didn't understand. She was helping to untangle a string of colorful bulbs when suddenly the mood of the room darkened. Her Bubba had tripped over a strand of lights she left across the living room floor and now had a bloody wound up the front of his right shin. As she sat on the floor with frantic activity swirling around above her, she realized he would not live much longer. It was there in the panic of her mother's eyes and resignation of her father's shoulders.
So she spent time with relatives, waiting for her brother's life to wind down to the end. She had a sick feeling from being separated from her mom and dad and brothers and longed to be home with her family, all in one place. The only consolation was being able to snoop through the drawers and closets at her grandmother's apartment and hear stories of the grand old days.
The grandmother had shown her the jewelry and while the girl played with jet beads, listened to the story of the man who knocked on the door one day to ask if the ladies had any old jewelry to sell. They naively said their jewelry wasn't for sale, so one night when they were out, the man came back and stole everything they weren't wearing. All the beautiful pieces that Papa had brought the great grandmother and his three daughters were gone just like the children and grand house and easy life.
The girl heard stories of her great uncle as a child; how he loved to tease and make the school children laugh with rhymes like, "James K. Polk from Tennessee, he can poke some people but he'll never poke me" and "If at first you don't succeed, keep on sucking 'til you do suck seed." She heard about the rare banana tree that grew in their garden and was taken up every winter and stored in the basement to be replanted the following spring. When asked if it bore fruit the grandmother told of the gardener cutting the stalk of bananas and hanging it from a hook on the back porch so the children could reach it. The grandmother even told her the horrifying story of a younger great uncle who died after being bitten by a rabid dog. A picture of the boy revealed a sweet child with shoulder length blond hair and a pleasing face. It was hard to imagine him crying and shocked after being bitten, then suffering cruelly from the disease that killed him. He was the youngest child in the family and his loss broke all their hearts.
The closet in the bedroom with the twin beds held silk and silver chain purses and silver compacts. These were what the grandmother called her party purses. She had delicately painted fans for the garden parties and silver cigarette cases for the bridge parties. The silk ones were from the times she danced the night away with her beau. Even though she had gone to music conservatory to learn piano, when she played the old upright at the girl's house, it was always ragtime music that came out. Years later the girl realized it was her grandmother's little rebellion against the staid society in which she lived.
The table the television sat on was an ancient sideboard with whimsical details. It was slightly out of place with the older, heavier furniture. Even though it shared the same dark stain, it had graceful legs and a scalloped skirt with little wooden balls suspended at intervals across the front. There was one large drawer with wooden pulls that the girl had been discouraged from opening. The grandmother had warned her that the TV might topple over if the drawer was pulled too hard. But curiosity got the better of the little girl and she opened the drawer slightly to have a peek. There among the old decks of cards and magazines was a cinnabar box. The Chinese red caught her eye and the intricate carving made her want to inspect it more carefully.
The girl carefully carried the exotic treasure over to the sofa to have a better look. She asked her great grandmother what it was, what it was used for . The old lady's barely audible voice told of a land far across the ocean where the people lived a very different life. They spoke in a way we couldn't understand; they didn't believe in Jesus, but in someone named Buddha. The little figures on the box were smiling men who appeared to be glad to see each other. There were mountains in the background and a lake and trees where the men were. One was sitting on a rock watching the other approach. The girl had more questions than the sweet lady could answer. What was it made of? How old is it? What are the men talking about? She wore the old lady out.
Now every time the girl came in the apartment, she would go get the cinnabar box from the drawer in the sideboard and examine it. Since she didn't have answers to her questions, she made up stories of who the men were and what they were taking about. One day they were brothers, another day father and son. The relationship was always amiable between them because they were always smiling. The weather was always fine and the view always spectacular. The men told jokes to make each other laugh. Their little world was happy and trouble free, just as the girl imagined the easy life to be.