Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thankful on Thursday

I'm thankful today for several things, like the fact that I'm off on a little vacation jaunt to a warmer climate for a few days. I'm not packed. Big surprise there. And that's more of a challenge than you know. Looks like we're driving the Mini Cooper. Lots of fun for sure, but awfully small when you've got to fit 2 puppies and there's only room for one big crate. Then you've got to make room for a suitcase, so instead of laying out the clothes, shoes, toiletries, etc and selecting the suitcase to hold it all, you select the suitcase that will fit with the crate and then pack only what you can squeeze into it. Did I mention I love a challenge?
And if that's not enough, I'm reading another fabulous library book. And Clayton's reading the latest Dick Francis novel I bought ( in hardback of course as soon as it hit the stands), so that means 2 big, thick books. Plus I've got oodles of magazines and soft cover craft books that have arrived recently and haven't even been opened. Guess those won't make the cut.
It goes without saying that I've got to take my traveling art journal supplies which consist of watercolor pencils and a water reservoir brush, scissors & a glue stick, a black ink pad and just a few rubber stamps, my journal, and my supplies for my Thanksgiving cards.
My plan to make art last night never blossomed. Instead I had a lovely visit with each of my guests. When they left I finished the laundry and went to bed.

I don't have a technique to share today but I do have a tip. If you want to make a really simple card you'll need to get a dictionary and turn to the page with the words thank, thankful, thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day, and thank you.

If you'll click on the photo above it will enlarge to full screen and you'll see those very words. I made 4 copies of the section of my dictionary that featured those words, did a cut & paste with 4 to a sheet and made my photocopies. Now it's a matter of trimming them down to size, adding a bit of color, a little clip art, and layering them onto colored cardstock. Then I'll mount that onto a postcard cut from white cardstock, address them, add my note to the back, and send them on their way.
If you don't want to make photocopies, simply type up the definition of any of these words and print them out to use on your cards. And if you don't want to mail them, but would rather use them as placecards on your table next week, that will also work. Print out the definitions, stamp or write boldly the person's name on each one, and sit them at each place setting. Why not take it one step further by giving everyone a pen? They can write what they're thankful for on the back of their placecard and you can save them for your journal.

I'm now on my third book by Lee Smith, and I'm so thankful to have discovered her at this point in my life. Weeks ago at the local library I found these printed sheets of suggested reading put together by staff members. Ms. Smith was on the list and so my journey began. Book #1, Fair and Tender Ladies, was written as letters authored by a young girl who ages throughout the book. I was so impressed that I bought a copy for my mother as a gift. The second book, The Last Girls, was even better and again told the stories of women through flashbacks to their college days. I laughed out loud often while reading that one and loved it so much I bought a copy for my best friend. I hope she's enjoying it as much as I did. And now this book, told as letters written in a young girl's diary, promises to be just as wonderful. So I owe a debt of gratitude to the staff of my library for steering me down this path of sheer joy.
In between these books I've read several mysteries, a saga spanning three generations of two families, and of all things, a Western. Two great joys of my life are reading and creating art and I look forward to many years of both to come.

One last suggestion would be to create a centerpiece for your table made only from things you gather in your yard. Magnolia leaves, clippings from an evergreen or two, and stems loaded with berries from your Nandinas or Holly bushes, mixed with a few colorful leaves are all you need. Don't take all the berries; the birds will need them later in the year.

With luck I'll post during my trip, maybe including a photo of that fully packed car! Stay safe, stay well, and always stay thankful.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thinking Out Loud

This morning I walked the puppies while it was still early and there was ice on everything. Standing around while they frolicked I heard what sounded like water running. But it was the sound of leaves falling through the trees, frozen, so that they made a loud noise as they fell. And watching them swirling on their way down to the ground was just the most mesmerizing sight. Isn't it funny how we take things for granted? Like those vibrant colors we see only once a year and the sounds around us?

Yesterday's snack was Jello and today I've had a cold, crisp apple that was just the perfect treat. Did I wish I had some caramel for dipping? Yes. That would've been nice. I've been hesitant to buy apples lately because the prices have risen so much and I finally decided they were never coming down, and clearly weren't going to be on sale, so I bit the bullet and paid too much. Probably made it all the sweeter.
Last night as the washer was making crashing, banging, horrible noises from the laundry room the phone was ringing. My ring, only answered by me. So as I'm trying to rearrange blankets and towels in the washer I'm hollering to my husband who'd loaded the washer to please answer my phone. It was my friend Barb calling from KY and as I'm rambling aloud about my laundry dilemma she asked if I knew who I was speaking to with a laugh in her voice. I didn't, but it didn't change the fact that I was happy to tell her about what I was doing when she called.
Three hours later I came back downstairs, still on the phone. I'd gone upstairs thinking I might accomplish something in the studio, but instead I enjoyed my phone call. I admit I did fast forward through 2 nights of Dancing With the Stars. Couldn't glean much except that cute little Julianne Hough and her partner Cody were sent packing last night. I'm sure there were things I could've been doing with that time, but instead I plopped right down in the family room, put my feet up (I was wearing some of my piggy socks) and enjoyed my conversation.
I'm not saying I'm old, but I can remember as a child we had a wall phone in the kitchen with a rotary dial and a very short cord. That was the only phone til my teenage years when I got one in my room up on the second floor. Back then if you got a call, my Mother (or someone) would lay the phone down on a stool and call your name. Now this was back in the day of the "party line", which now seems like such an unusual name for it. Sometimes you'd hear a click in the middle of your conversation, meaning a neighbor wanted to use the phone. Or sometimes I'd pick up the phone to dial and hear Mrs. Pilkington around the corner from our house, already in the middle of a conversation.

Phone calls didn't last three hours back then. You'd get tired of sitting on the stool, or Mother would decide if you had so much free time on your hands she could find you a chore. Or more often than not your friend invited you to her house down the street and 12 seconds after the call began you were out the door.
When I got my phone upstairs my Mother bought a gossip bench to sit it on. Ever seen one of those? There was a cushion to sit on but they were incredibly uncomfortable. So I got a long cord that allowed me to take the phone off the gossip bench and drag it over to the sofa (yes I had one of those in my room) or onto the bed. And a bad habit took hold.
When I get calls now I usually wander into the bedroom and stretch out, figuring I may as well be comfortable, because my calls always take a long time. The good news is we have 7 cordless phones scattered throughout the 3 floors of our house so I can walk and talk at the same time. No more being tied to a stool in the kitchen. Sheesh, we've surely got the good life now.
Next Thursday is Thanksgiving. A time to truly give thanks. Why not decorate a few blank cards with some of your artwork and write your friends and relatives, telling them exactly how thankful you are to have them in your life? I've got a couple of girls coming over tonight who missed stamp club last week, and I think while they're playing I'll create a few little works of art. Then I'll attach them to cards and while I'm enjoying a few days in FL I'll write out my thank you notes. (Note to self: decorate some envelopes and find addresses before closing the suitcase!)
Be inspired today to enjoy the little things in life. And give thanks for all the wonders around you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

37 Days!!!

Here I sat, minding my own business, enjoying a bowl of sugar free Cherry Jello, when I take a peek at a blog. And there it is, in bright flashing color, "37 Days Until Christmas". Have mercy. I very nearly strangled on my jello.
How is it possible? I'm not ready. I can't be ready. It just can't be done. But the holidays are coming whether I'm ready or not, so I may as well take a deep breath and believe it.
My inbox has been filled for the last week with emails from all the magazines, giving me ideas for Thanksgiving table settings, quick decorating ideas, recipes even I can follow. And yet I still didn't see it coming til that "37 Days" post. And you know I'm blonde, so I'm not at all embarrassed to tell you, I flipped the pages of my calendar and counted them off for myself. Well, I probably should be blushing to admit it, but I'm simply astonished. Picture me with my mouth wide open, eyes huge, suddenly mortified to think that I'm leaving on Friday morning for a trip to FL when I should be worrying about decorations and shopping and addressing cards and so much more! I may just have a headache, and I know it's not a sugar rush from that jello because it had no sugar.

This photo came today in an email, giving me ideas for quick and easy gifts. All I have to do is buy some clever jars, like apothocary jars with tight fitting lids. I can sprinkle in some beads or marbles or aquarium glass in the bottom, drop in a paper white bulb, seal the lid, add a ribbon, and voila! I've got a gift. The recipient simply adds water. Goodness, can it really be that easy?
We're discussing our holiday open house and whether we'll host one this year. (Keep in mind we had sheetrock repairs made throughout both the first and second floor over the weekend and now every single room has to be touched up with paint. Do we have the paint you ask? Nope.) The open house is looking doubtful. But aren't these little tin buckets just precious as party favors?

In my foyer we have the most unique, fabulous little chest that looks like a half-circle. The back is flat but the front is rounded, with 15 little pie-shaped drawers. The sight of this little chest with some of the drawers open, dangling ornaments and decorations just screamed at me to copy.

And how fabulous is this? A little greenery, a few bows, some tiny wrapped packages. I'm simply swooning over the simplicity of it all and wondering if I might have time to adapt just a few of these ideas in the next 37 days. Actually I've got to deduct a few for my upcoming trip, and then I'll need a few to rest. Oh, and a day at Mom's for turkey and the trimmings, and then a day to rest up from that.
Tick Tock. Yes, that's me you hear screaming...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What Makes You Happy?

Not everyone is happy on this day after the elections. But what does it take you make you happy, or to at least make you smile? Would a bouquet of flowers bring a little sunshine your way?
How about memories of playing with tinker toys as a child? I still remember my son playing with his just as I'd done with mine. We still have his toys like the Light Bright, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, etc, so his childhood is never far away in my mind.

Last week we had to bring our potted plants in for the winter. We'd spent the better part of an afternoon last year sifting through broken crockery my step-daughter had given us, and what fun we had decorating a really big terra cotta pot. Sitting in my kitchen now I love it, though my husband says he likes it better on the deck. Maybe I'll move it up to the studio to cheer me, but I'm also thinking about all those boxes and containers still filled with crockery that needs a new home. Maybe it's time to decorate more pots and a mirror.

I've still got my tiny paper parasol centerpiece displayed in the studio, though there's so much eye candy in the room that I doubt anyone else has even noticed it. But I see it everytime I'm in the room and it still makes me happy.

I've always loved little white houses with picket fences. But have you ever seen a sweeter fence than this? Sometimes it's the little things that can bring us joy.

Now that the temperatures have begun to cool, I've had 2 cups of hot chocolate. The first was on my flight home from Cleveland. The Southwest flight attendant asked if I wanted a beverage, and on a whim I asked if he had hot cocoa. Sure enough he did and I've gotta tell you, it was nothing short of divine. When I gave back my cup along with my compliments he simply beamed, saying he'd made it with his own two hands and several passengers around me gave him a cheer along with me.

It's time to shop for pansies, one of my favorite flowers, to fill my window boxes, and this year I'm adding a flowering cabbage in each one. Is there a chance they'll get too big? You'd better believe it. Is that going to stop me? Not on your life.

Last week I had an unexpected trip to the dentist. We'd bought a pound of salt water taffy at the state fair which is one of those annual treats at best. But since we'd skip the fair last year it had been a really long time since I'd had any. Wouldn't you just know it would pull out the only crown in my mouth? So there I sat last Tuesday, waiting for my dentist to work his magic and put it back in my mouth while I watched lots of little birds enjoying one of two birdfeeders he has positioned right outside the examination room window. Kudos to you and/or your staff Dr. S for thinking of it!!! It wasn't anything fancy like the ones shown in this photo, but it attracted the birds who put on quite a show for me and took my mind off my worries for a few minutes.

If you like to give gifts to the neighbors during the holidays, why not include some sidewalk chalk for the kids. Ask them to create something in your driveway or new brick walkway, or just let them put a hop-scotch grid in front of your house. Then grab a rock and join them for a bit of fun. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

When we go visit my mother I'm always drawn to her porch swing mounted under the carport out back. When we'd visit her mother's house as children we loved her swing too. We've had a free-standing swing for two with an awning for the last 10 years but recently took it down as it was truly showing its age. The closest thing I have now is a glider that we got from my in-laws last year when they had to move into an assisted living facility. It's not the same as a swing, yet sitting on the deck in that glider always brings a smile to my face.

Lots of craft shows are coming to our area in the next few weeks, trying to entice us to spend a bit on gifts for friends, relatives, and neighbors. Everytime I see a booth where they've taken old china cups & saucers, mounting them on spindles to create simple little bird feeders, I'm tempted to buy one for my flower beds. Do they go with the design of my house? Not in the least, and that's probably why I've resisted. But I'm thinking about all that crockery in the basement, both broken and still intact, and wondering if I can't make a bird feeder of my own.
Today I think we should all concentrate on our happiness, whether it's mailing a card with a handwritten note to a friend, planting a few pansies, digging through broken china, or reading a good book. Watch the first few minutes of The Bonnie Hunt Show; that's always good for a few laughs in my house. Ride by the local elementary school or childcare facility and watch the kids run around on the playground. Sip a cup of coffee or cocoa and admire the leaves in their autumnal splendor, or better yet, go out and rake them into a pile and then jump right in the middle of them! Pull out some inks & paints, rubber stamps & embellishments and make something joyful to keep for yourself or to give as a gift.
Whatever makes you happy should be your motivation today. I'm sipping my coffee and dreaming of hot chocolate, planning a trip to Home Depot for pansies and flowering cabbages. Look for me there, smiling.