Road trip fun

Friday, February 25, 2011

I'll be blogging intermittently from the road for the next little while. We're enjoying a little time away as a family. We're breaking up a long road trip by staying in Gatlinburg, TN. for a few days up in the Smokey mountains. I think it is a well-kept secret. What a beautiful little town with friendly people.

Right now I am sitting in a warm and cozy cabin. The fire is crackling and my dog is curled up on the couch. She was out of sorts for a few days but has claimed a comfy spot so all is right in her world again.

Jon and the kids are in the hot tub relaxing their sore muscles after a day of skiing and snowboarding. I think Blair is hooked. She did a great job and only skied with Jon once. The rest of the time she went down the hill all by herself, beaming from ear to ear. Her instructor said she was the most mature 5 year-old she has ever taught. That made me more happy than her ability to ski.

While they were out, Trae and I enjoyed a day at the aquarium. He bought a toy laser gun and "shot" at the fish and got up close and personal to some penguins.

Today we are heading out to explore a few more places and then we'll be on the road tomorrow. We're exchanging ski gear for swim gear as we head into the Lone Star state to visit Jon's parents and hopefully I'll get to see my mom's family as well. There will be plenty of real Mexican food to enjoy and some real barbecue. It only happens once every couple of years so indulging isn't so bad.

I'll be back soon with scenes from San Antonio and maybe an antique shop or two along the way.

Enjoy the weekend!

*all pictures are SOOC - straight out of the camera

Winter's last hurrah

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Last night just as I was heading out the door to go to a friend's house, Jon remarked that he received a text message from Belen's basketball team captain saying they would have their donut breakfast if there wasn't a 2 hour delay. A two-hour delay? I had no idea.

As I walked down the steps outside, I felt a snowflake on my face. I looked up and determined, yep - those were snow clouds. As I was making my way home there was a dusting of snow on the ground.

I paid no attention to the news yesterday since the kids were out of school and the tv was dominated by Nickelodeon. I don't watch much daytime tv anyway except for Nate.

So as I awoke to another Winter wonderland this morning, I had to question Punxsutawney Phil's eyesight. He is 125 years old after all.
I went to his website to see how accurate he has been over the years and they say he's been 100% right.
Sounds like groundhog propaganda to me.

Oh well, at least it looks pretty again for a moment. And it feels like a good day to relax with some chamomile tea and dream of warmer climates.
Anybody up for Hawaii or a cruise to the Bahamas?

Pictures from a youth dance

Monday, February 21, 2011

A month ago I was asked to take pictures for our church's Formal youth dance. I thought about what to do for them but determined that the best photos for teenagers would be something free form and not the staged backdrop type that I had at school dances.

Then I thought maybe I should have something and threw some ideas around in my head. But then I went back to my original thought. Those first thoughts are usually the right ones.

Maybe next time we'll look at a full backdrop but last night we took pictures "photo booth style" and let them dictate how their pictures would look. I brought a few things just for kicks and let them have fun. But it was I who had the fun. My spirit was renewed and I felt energetic. Being around teen-agers can do that to you.

Usually they stand for the pictures but I took my vintage couch as an option. Every single one of them opted to sit on the couch and some even dove on their friends who were sitting there. It's "springy-ness" surprised everyone which made them almost fall off and laugh right away so we were off to a good start.

They wanted hard copies so in between photos and dancing, we ran to Rite-Aid and printed off 100 pictures. I made it there just in time and when I returned to the dance, a crowd of kids were waiting. I loved hearing their laughter as they sifted through the pile of pictures. And then more kids came running in so we did another round.
100 down, 340 to go!

Here are a few -

Platter person

Friday, February 18, 2011

Today as I was doing a little cabinet reorganization, I pulled out all of my platters. There was a time when I never had enough serving pieces which resulted in me setting the table with cooking pans that were functional but not pretty. Some handles were loose and lids didn't fit. I don't like the look of pots and pans on the table. It's just too chaotic with handles sticking out every which way.

So I decided to get some more platters and got hooked on them. I put everything on 'em, from simple cinnamon toast for the kids to a heap of Chicken fettuccine Alfredo. Everything looks better on a platter.

It takes a little more work on my part to wash a few more dishes but it's worth the extra effort to make an otherwise ordinary meal a little less so.

Everytime I take them to a function of some sort, I am asked where I got them. So in case you're interested, I have all that info. You'd be surprised at some of the deals.

1. Lenox Butler's Pantry large rectangular platter- gift
(This line is a little spendy so it's taken me a while to gather.)

2. White, modern, clean lines, Wal-Mart - $9.00

3. Vintage, antique shop - $20.00 (It was a bit overpriced but I really wanted it.)

Good price, nice size.

All purchased from the thrift shop

Ironstone platters

1. .99 cents

2. $1.99

3. $3.99

4. Large wicker tray - $1.99

When I spied these large, heavy and insanely priced platters at the thrift store,

I immediately thought of this movie scene and inserted the words " a perfectly good white platter" haha...

Two of each

1. Lenox Butler's Pantry, dept. store
(I think this is the small platter and has since been redesigned.
It is also more expensive now go figure..)
In 2005, they were $40.00.

2. Marshall's - $7.99

3. Salvation Army thrift store - $2.99

As you can tell, I'm not opposed to looking at the thrift shop before I head to the department store or other retail store. I've had a little luck with it. So try that route first if you are in the market for some new platters and enjoy!

Wednesday Quotes - about talents and skills in a round about story

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The thaw is here...See you next year, ice!

When I first started this blog, I had no idea what I was doing. I still don't really. I had no idea where I wanted it to go or what I wanted to convey. Still don't. But I guess that's why it can be a sea of random topics. I didn't even know what to title it and wish I would've done something different but in the end, "Enjoying the simple things" suits me I guess.

I've never been too fussy or needy. Just the everyday norm was okay with an interesting adventure or two thrown in for good measure. I can remember as a child going on walks all by myself on our property and lying down under the big oak trees. I could lie there all day and stare at the sky but occasionally popped up my head to make sure a tractor or cow wasn't coming by. The ability to relax any cares away felt good. I was always strangely happy and didn't need to be in a mix of friends to feel included because I had myself and I quite liked her.

Last night my boy had a complete meltdown which is not uncommon with his behavioral disorder. Sometimes though, it takes every ounce of strength for me to stay calm. Every ounce.

And sometimes, no, many times I fail to do so.

After much frustration about his day and homework, he began to stop and listen. With my arms around him to keep him calm, I asked if he trusted me. Through sobs he said yes. I asked him if he felt that I knew what I was doing. Again, he said yes.

I took him through a calming, breathing exercise and asked him to relax and listen. He did. I told him to lie down and rest his mind and body and that tomorrow would be a better day. By resting early, I promised that in the morning we'd tackle his homework together. It would all work out.

As I was leaving his room, he pointed to a book and asked if I would read it. It was "I'll Love you Forever." By its end and in tears of sorrow, he leaned in to me and said he loved me and apologized. I did the same and reminded him that he could always trust me and that I would be his advocate, always. We would beat this problem but it'll take work.

I only tell you this to illustrate that from the beginning I feel I was destined to have this challenge with a child. I can see now how those inherently given abilities of being mostly happy and taking life in stride are my talents. I never thought they were all those years growing up. I even skipped out on Jr. Miss because I had no idea what talent I could possibly provide. But just like anything else, I need to keep those talents in check and push myself to get better at things which propose more of a challenge.

While those were less noticeable than the talents I wished for like singing - tone deaf here! or drawing - stick figures only! or being musically inclined with instruments - have you ever known anyone who played "air saxophone" in band because they couldn't figure out how to read music? You do now! It was like lip syncing only with a saxophone. I just couldn't get it.

I am thankful for those lesser known talents. And God, in His infinite wisdom, gave them to me because He knew I'd need those skills to get through what was to be, like last night.

Sometimes we may look upon another and wonder how they managed to get into the talent line twice. Measuring yourself up to someone else will never result in anything positive. You will always be disappointed in one of you.

So in this long, round about Wednesday quote, remember that your skills and talents are still being honed, no matter your age because you have much to offer. It just may be the complete opposite talent that you hoped for but it is important none the less. Use them all and find new ways to go about it.

Have a good day.

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me.”

~ Erma Bombeck

Items repurposed and a picture

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Last month as I was doing a little "garage thrifting" aka, going through boxes that I had forgotten about, I came across a few things like this. I thought I would use the dish for spare change or jewelry and I chose the latter since we already have a spare change dish.

It's been nice to see my pins out rather than tucked away in boxes and has made me actually wear them a lot more. Most of them are from the 50's and 60's, either given to me or purchased at the flea market. There are a few sellers at the one I like to frequent with good collections and decent prices.

The deco handkerchief display was something that I really wanted to keep but it was rather large and I had no place for it. Not wanting to part with it, I decided to use it for its intended purpose as a display piece but in the same vein as the dish: jewelry display.
It now drapes like a willow tree. Even the mister liked it which I appreciated.
And for the smaller items that I don't keep in the main jewelry box, I still use my trusty re-purposed heart from Valentine's day.

And for kicks, this is my Kindergarten picture. I remember just before I was leaving to walk down our long country drive-way to the bus, my mom pinned on the little blue pin. It's barely visible in the first picture, tucked under the pink dogwood.

(She also cut my long, red hair the night before this picture after I begged her to give me Shirley Temple locks but that's another story.)

Now Blair wears the pin on occasion and so it continues...

Have a good day-
Spring is just around the corner!

Personal cakes and my Valentine

Monday, February 14, 2011

This morning I awoke to a card and a love note on my pillow from my husband. I am always surprised how he is able to write just a few sentences and make them so poetic. It is one of his gifts.
He has done the same for the kids, not just on Feb 14, and I take the notes and tuck them away because I know that one day it will make them happy to read them over and over and will be reminded how much they are loved.

Some of my favorite Valentine's gifts from him was an antique box filled with potpourri and a sweet love note tucked inside. Another was a big basket full of apples and chocolate covered strawberries with rose petals tossed about the basket.

Other than a sweet note and treats, we really don't do much else. We have 364 other days of the year to appreciate each other, as well as the kids, but it's fun to make things so I am pulling out the Bosch to make personal Valentine cakes from scratch.

I am also using the small cake molds that make any cake look instantly cute by their floral shape. Some will be frosted with a simple chocolate glaze and others will get a dusting of powdered sugar and sprinkles of course.

One thing I received today and had to show is a necklace fashioned by Blair. She took an old locket out of my jewelry box and placed a picture of herself holding a Valentine inside and put it on a green string. Too cute.

Have a happy day everyone! Any fun plans?

My funny Valentine - vintage of course

Friday, February 11, 2011

I think it's pretty clear by now that you know I love vintage items and ephemera is up on the list. Valentines, calling cards and old letters are in my arsenal of crafting and decorative supplies. I've been collecting them since I was a teen-ager but only buying a few here and there if they are highly decorative or if I can't resist that sweet factor they have.

There is just something about them - maybe it's the way they're written, use of materials, colors or just the all around old-fashioned goodness, I think make the perfect current valentine.

Years ago people thought I was crazy when I would send out vintage valentines. They just didn't get it, asking if I couldn't afford new ones? That made me laugh. Yes, I could afford a $2.99 pack of standard foil cards and in a pinch, I have. But my preference is hunting for the old ones and re-working them.

They are not hard to find. Just go to any antique shop, antique mall or flea market. They are usually priced individually but everytime I go to buy them, the seller looks at the stack in my hand and just gives me a price, which is always better.

Some of the collection:

Can you see the writing from a soldier to his sweetheart?

"You and I soon I hope."

WWII French Valentine postcard

"Love & Kisses, your hubby. 1944"

Yay for dating it - my mom taught me to put the date on everything because she said you always think you'll remember, but you won't.

Ribbon details

Old postcards are a great thing to use when constructing your own Valentines. They can be less expensive than the old cards and are in abundance at antique shops and flea markets.

They are usually dated and postmarked making it easy to identify the age.
Calling cards from the 1890's - 1940's; small works of art

Some of my favorites are those with an envelope. I don't find these too often. It's a good place to stash your own love notes.

Another postcard.

Although it's not as colorful or artistic as the others,

it's the secret admirer, not creepy stalker note, on the back that caught my attention.
I mean, I don't think a stalker would say "Ta Ta."

This girl was ahead of her time by sending a boy a love note in 1914.

Cute school boy card.
On the back and written in cursive it says, "From Ned."

Ned had good taste in cards.

I bought this little cup to recreate which will hold some special treats for the kids come Monday.

As you can see, my little guy is already eyeing it.

So what about you? I can't be the only lover of vintage cards out there.

Any guesses on my most favorite?

Wednesday Quotes

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The trees in my backyard all pretty with ice.

Well helloooo...

After somewhat of a busy and challenging week, I am finally on the ball!

The other day I was walking toward some friends at the store and one said, "I have a sneaking suspicion that Laura is always happy." While I feel that I am mostly happy, I do have those bummer days. But most of the time I really can't think of a good reason to be personally unhappy. That doesn't mean I see rainbows, hear birds chirping and dream of unicorns and puppies all day.
But my theory is that there is no use complaining about a situation I can't control or complain about something unless I back it with a solution.

My kids know this about me because it is something I ask of them. I remind them that they are intelligent people; God gave them creative minds so "use it and get back to me" I say, when they have a conflict with each other or with any other concerns of theirs. And they do most of the time. It's not always without some whining but they eventually get there. Some of their solutions to problems are truly amazing. Hopefully through those opportunities they learn to see their own strengths and become problem solvers and help others see their own strengths too.

So if this is something you are thinking about whether for yourself or others, or if you are like me and feel yourself becoming stressed, remember this week's Wednesday quote:

"The important thing about a problem is not its solution, but the strength we gain in finding the solution."

author unknown

Have a good day!

Design trend

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I was reading that one of this year's new thing to watch for in design trends is natural, sculptural materials like driftwood.

Honestly, I don't think driftwood ever went out. Maybe because I grew up near the Oregon coast and saw that it was always used in design in everyone's houses or store fronts there.

Every summer we would drag a bunch of pieces home from the coast. I remember heading out to the beach in winter just to pick some up for something my mom wanted to make. Many of her entries into the Clark County Fair were made of driftwood and always placed. She even had me enter one time when I was about 8 years old. I didn't even know what I was doing. I just used a piece of driftwood, succulents, moss and small, matte ceramic seagull picks and stuck it all together. Imagine our surprise when I took home a red ribbon. I'm guessing the criteria was pretty loose.

We always had driftwood around the house. Its beautiful color complimented the colorful interiors of my parent's house. Now it's becoming increasingly difficult to find given that many of our ocean fronts are being sold to private property owners. In Oregon there are still large public beach fronts where you can still find driftwood. They even let you camp on the beach and build bon fires. If you live there, lucky you! It truly is one of the most spectacular and romantic shore lines ever.

Cannon Beach, OR
photo source unknown

I have one piece that I found when we lived on the South Carolina shore. I always scouted the beach to find some but there isn't much driftwood there so when I found it, I promptly stuck it in my bag and it's been sitting on my hutch ever since. I wish I were home and could go fill up the trunk of the car. But instead I'm going to call my brother and see if he'll send me a box of small pieces. I want to try to make a mirror like this.
What kind of natural elements do you like?

**Still playing catch-up on the birthday and vintage valentine's posts - next week.

Ice covered lines and a birthday

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sorry, no posting yesterday.

The big ice-covered branch on our oak tree was weighing heavily on the already ice-covered power and cable lines which equals no internet. And today is Reese's 9th birthday so I was busy baking a requested cookie pizza, 3 of them, for a classroom of 3rd graders.
More on that later and a letter to the birthday boy!

See ya,

A handmade product review of sorts

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A friend of mine, Carrie, wanted to make handmade gifts and one of the things she taught herself was to make monogrammed dish washing cloths. I saw them while I was over at her house and thought they were so clever. I love monograms and anything to do with typography in general so I had to have some. How cute would a set of 7 with the initial of each day of the week be?

Photo taken from Carrie's blog here

I commissioned her to make one that would remind me of Spring as I am craving those pops of color that peek out after a long, cold winter. With the thought of daffodils as inspiration, she whipped up a nice yellow "M." She's working on an "L" along with another, longer dishcloth. As I was making dinner and cleaning up last night, I kept using it which made me happy. It brought in a little life to an otherwise frosty day.

If you'd like your own dishcloth, just e-mail me and I'll get you the information. Or you can head over to Carrie's and chat with her.

Handmade is happy

Have a great Tuesday. For us it's Snowday!
Coming up this week:
Wednesday quotes, vintage Valentines or handmade lampshade,
and climbing a mountain story (literally)