Monday, January 28, 2013

Painted Canvases for Baby Shower

Back in February, the girls of Unboundary (the company where I've worked for 16 years) gave Molly a baby shower. We painted baby blocks using an alphabet theme. Here is the link to how they turned out.  What a blast. Working with a creative group of women makes for some wonderfully crafty showers (no  shower games with this crew; we got art to make!).

And with Amanda's shower to follow in September (see link here), the alphabet block theme continued but took on a different form. Instead of blocks, we painted small canvases. Amanda can use them to decorate the nursery, either framing them in some sort of temporary framing or hanging them with clothespins (gave her mini gold-spray-painted ones) from a length of string. Once baby Adeline is older, she can play with them, spelling out words or making up stories from all the pictures. Here are all 26.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Card Table

I love a card table. And I have lots of memories surrounding this simple, square, folding piece of furniture. As a child, I can remember the table being a "room" in one of our blanket forts. (I'm thinking that at one point we did have one of those fabric "houses" that covered the table.) Under the maze of tables, mismatched blankets, threadbare sheets (and the random broom handle to teepee any sags in the roof), we'd snuggle down with books, a flashlight, and a box of Bugles (which became divine long nails when placed on the tips of our fingers, causing us to channel Auntie Mame in voice and mannerism). 

I remember my grandparents setting up a card table in their living room if they were having a group of more than 4 to play bridge (otherwise, the kitchen table worked fine). On the weekends that they did play bridge and my sister and I would be spending the night, the sounds of adults laughing and the flutter of cards being shuffled was the sweetest lullaby a kid could ask for. Before going to sleep we'd ask Nana and Pap Pap if we could sneak out and grab a bite from their poo poo platter of snacks. We usually gravitated toward the oily, salty peanuts, like the kind they used to serve on airplanes. And when we'd say "aw, but now we have to brush our teeth again," Nana would smile, give us a loving pat on the butt, and tell us that "peanuts clean your teeth."

Growing up with a dad who was an art director in a Mad Men-esque ad agency in Baltimore was always the coolest. I remember the downtown office, the drafting tables for the artists and the typewriters for the copywriters, the lounges and conference rooms with modern furniture in jewel tones and whites, the production areas with all kinds of papers and adhesives, the risqué posters on common-area walls that made me blush but wanna look. Going in on a weekend when Daddy had to pick something up meant that my sister and I could push each other on wheeled secretarial chairs around the space, soaking in the Bestine and ashtray smells of creativity and success. Dad worked a lot on weekends, more often than not setting up shop in our basement family room, using the card table as his desk. He'd line up all his magic markers and work on TV storyboards for beer and indoor/outdoor carpet commercials. My sister and I would watch TV and play Barbies, setting up elaborate houses and scenes under and around the table. And Dad would always remind us not to knock into the legs; magic markers are not forgiving. To this day if I get a whiff of marker, I'm transported back to sitting under a card table trying to shove an exaggeratedly arched Barbie foot into a plastic go-go boot.

I have my own card table now. Its surface is misted in paint from being used as a makeshift spray paint booth in the driveway. It's seen its share of yard sales, spending many a sunny Saturday covered with a history of my life all for sale on the cheap. Although I have an enviable craft room with a giant 4' x 8' wooden table on wheels, the card table is often center stage in the living room where I can craft and watch TV. It's been lent out for baby showers and Christmas parties. It's well traveled, much loved, and showing the signs of having lived a very rich life.

One day, my four-legged friend will host the grandkids at Thanksgiving, playing the role of The Kids Table with much aplomb. It will never do a yard sale, ever again (this, a promise I make to myself after every yard sale, only to be broken when I forget the pain of the last one and look at how much crap I've amassed). And every time I set it on its side to pop the legs out in a rusty squeak, I'll be comforted by the memories that flood me and the memories yet to be made.

[Photos of markers borrowed from the Orchard Recruitment blog and Ana Reinert's blog Under the Desk.]

Friday, January 18, 2013

Serenbe Revisited and Random Stuff

I had been down to Serenbe a bit ago to see Ali's newly built house. While Harleigh was home for the holiday break, I really wanted to duplicate the trip so that she could see all the beauty and charm of this, well, . . . nothing says it better than their website:

"The settlement of Serenbe is found in the heart of Chattahoochee Hill Country. This 40,000 acres of rural Georgia is about the size of Napa Valley, and is one of the last undeveloped stretches of land in the Atlanta area. The founders of Serenbe realize that their largely untouched 1,000 acres presented a short window of opportunity for creating a community in a new and better way.

"How is it made better? By protecting this land from the typical growth patterns of urban sprawl. By merging ecologically sound sustainability principles with the design philosophies of walking neighborhoods made up of both homes and shops. By building villages and hamlets for single people, families and empty nesters of a wide range of economic and cultural diversity. And by creating real community, where people are drawn together over gardening, over cooking, over books, over art, over ideas, and yes, even over back fences.

"They say that if you want to change the world, you should start in your own backyard. If that’s so, then Serenbe is quite a beginning. Or maybe a respectful nod to times gone by."

The day my girl and I made the trip down was rainy (but, thank gosh, unseasonably warm). The wet weather didn't deter us from exploring. As we sat eating lunch at the Blue-Eyed Daisy, Harleigh said that she felt like she was on Gilmore Girls, where everyone knows each other, and conversations effortlessly bloom.

Over that weekend I made it to the library to pick up two books that I'd reserved. Pippa Middleton's entertaining book is charming. I can't say that it's opened my eyes to a new and fresh side to entertaining, but it 1) is well written, and introduces lots of British foods and traditions, and 2) has pictures of Pippa in all of the entertaining scenarios, and she is beyond adorable. Perhaps not worth $50 (Amazon has it for $25), but so worth a library loan and the time I spent reading it.

I've just begun Tina Fey's book. Being that funny and comfortable with and confident in your sense of humor is such a gift.

Atlanta has been drenched all week. I'm sick of a big, hairy, WET dog. When it's dry outside, I can bring him back to my bed for snuggling. But with the crappy weather we've had, the carpeted part of the house is off limits. I miss seeing this face on the pillow next to me.

Looking forward to the weekend! Especially Sunday when the Falcons then the Ravens play.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Mug and a Dog with a Toothache

I'm on the Publicity Committee of my church and work with one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. He happens to be a potter. If I remember correctly, he took a class once, fell in love with it, and for a birthday or holiday one year, his wife had a pottery shed built as a surprise. As a thank you to all of us on the committee, he made us all mugs. Each one a different shape and color, different designs, but all having the Christ the King acronym on one side and our name on the other. Makes me want to take up pottery (and, of course, have my own studio).

OK, this purchase was so random, I'm almost embarrassed to post about it. I have chanced upon this Avon perfume bottle a number of times, and each time I pick it up and think that I could use it. This past weekend when I was out and about, I found one, once again. And for $2.00, it came home with me. I imagine someone I know having gum surgery or their wisdom teeth out, and making a gift basket for them, with this little gem in it. Cute, eh?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dollar Tree Button Magnets

Found these button magnets at Dollar Tree (8 to a packet). Not very pretty colors, for sure. With a little spray paint (ballet pink, off-white and tiffany box blue), I now have super cute magnets for my fridge. All for $2 and painted with random spray paint from my garage stash.

#1 rule at Dollar Tree. 
When you see it, get it. 
I can't tell you how many times I've seen something, 
gotten home and realized I needed or could use what I'd just seen, 
only to return a day or two later and all of the item GONE. 
It's called The Dollar Tree Downer.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Back when I was a pre-teen, it was sorta what I'd call the olden days. There were no personal computers, no cell phones, no remote controls for televisions. When my grandparents refer to their younger days as "the simple times," I, too, look back and think that compared to my daughter's generation, mine in its youth was indeed a simpler life.

As a little girl turning into a teenager, the days of playing with Barbies seamlessly led to innocent yearnings for teen idols. With things much "simpler," our glimpses of Davy Jones, Bobby Sherman, Donny Osmond, and David Cassidy were from a possible weekly TV show, Tiger Beat and Sweet 16 magazines, and album covers. While putting away some old photo albums the other day, I came across this page torn from an old Life Magazine.  The image was from some story about farming or something or other. As a 10-year-old, this picture was pinned to my bulletin board. I remember thinking he was the handsomest being I'd ever laid eyes on. I knew I'd never get Davy Jones to love me, but this random boy in a wheat field might just walk into my life one day and love me then and the rest of my life.

That got me to thinking about growing up in the 60s and 70s. How the limited TV shows and reception rendered our summer days filled with sunshine from the moment our feet hit the floor until we were bathed for the night, wearing crisp cotton seersucker pajamas  and smelling like baby powder. Our posse was a roving mess of mischief and imagination, running barefoot from back yard to construction sites to neighborhood pool. Summers lasted forever back then. Once back in school, the afternoons held us girls hostage by the daily phone call with the best friend. She and I would have been together all day, but had a world of things to talk about once back at our home bases. And with a landline kitchen wall phone, the conversations took place on the linoleum floor, changing from lying on your back to sitting with feet propped on the wall, a curly cord in hand to play with, completely immune to who might be trying to call (only to get that annoying busy signal). We had no microwave ovens, and so popcorn was dangerously prepared on the stovetop with a pot and oil (which is right up there with bicycle helmets not having been invented; it's a wonder our generation survived).

I had an autograph book, yes an autograph book. I didn't save it, so I have no idea whose autographs I collected, but I remember it being filled. At Christmastime, we counted down the days until Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman and The Grinch came on TV. There was one, only one, opportunity to watch these half-hour gems (we had no video recorders/players or DVDs). At one of my first jobs, working in a German bakery in our small town, I rang up the orders on an old-fashioned cash register. And we tied our white bakery boxes with red and white striped baker's twine long before it became the craft rage. I learned to drive in a car with a stick shift and a manual choke. 

And the boy in the wheat field . . . he never materialized. Not as a boy. Not as a man with leathered wrinkles from too much sun and an endearing paunch from too many breakfasts smothered in country gravy. May my daughter look back on her youth and think that they too were simple times. And may she find her boy in a wheat field.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Crafting 2013

I plan on crafting in 2013 with a renewed gusto. I love how it feels, making something pretty and reveling in my creative genius (even if the finished product was an idea from Pinterest or another blog). I have this amazing craft room with a ginormous wooden craft table on wheels. The room is also home to a great overstuffed chair and ottoman for lap projects. The walls are covered in framed prints and 3-D art, including a vintage doll quilt. I have storage space out the whazoo, and a walk-in closet for gifts and gift wrapping (which I've named The Candy Spelling Gift Closet). We've sacrificed a guest room just so I can have this gem of a work space.

Everyone at work has been saving their tea tins for me. I now have a basket of 22 in varying sizes. I've been looking for ideas to turn them into pretty storage.

Co-worker Buzz was taking this giant wood print to Goodwill, but I snatched it and plan on painting it and turning it into a piece of art.

And then there's Valentine's Day coming up. I want to send Harleigh a sweet care package and have some projects I'll be sharing with you!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Granny Fork

My Nana had a fork that I will never forget (and my sister now has it since her passing, so if I ever need to see it, it's still in the family). It was a three-pronged, walnut-handled one. Not for eating, but for poking and stirring, nudging and flipping, all those things that a Nana does to food in a frying pan when standing at the stove. The handle and the hardware itself was worn and smooth. The handle had become shiny from years of hand-holding, the silver dull and spotted from water and scrubbing. I can only compare it to a timeworn relic pulled from a velvet pouch on Antiques Roadshow: every inch of it telling a story. When I think of Nana's fork, I see glistening, buttered new potatoes, dotted with parsley flakes and browning with the popping butter caramelizing on the bottom of the skillet. I see nuggets of browning beef cubes, dredged in flour, ready to be made into a casserole of stroganoff. I see Nana herself, aproned and perfectly coifed, a Kleenex tucked under her watchstrap, in a kitchen filled with family and food, always smiling or laughing, most happy surrounded by her loved ones and their appetite for everything she loved to bake and cook. I smell the memories, hear them, and taste them. And all thanks to a fork.

One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was in my stocking from my parents. Lo and behold, my very own Nana fork. And wouldn't you know, it's called a Granny Fork. This one from Lamson Sharp, the oldest cutlery manufacturer in the United States. They have a whole selection of Granny utensils to choose from. As they describe them — "simple vintage kitchen gadgets that combine nostalgia and practical design." They run the gamut from paring knives to cake servers.

Don't you just love how memories of our deceased loved ones 
can live on in such a simple item as a fork.
I can only hope that someday my own grandchildren can find joy and love
in the little things I do and say.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 Cookie Swap

Our annual cookie swap at work is always a big hit. Everyone of us (about 25) bakes 4-6 dozen cookies. A dozen of each is displayed real pretty for us to enjoy over wine, beer and single-serve cartons of cold milk. The rest of the cookies stay in their original containers and are for swapping at the end. Cookies (on both the grazing and swapping tables) are labeled with the name of the cookie and the baker. I supply everyone with a baker's box and parchment paper for taking their cookies home. After years of doing this, the best boxes are found at I used to run from one Michaels to the next, trying to find 25 of the same box. Now, with Container Store, I place the order online and pick it up a few days later. They even have curbside service so I don't have to leave my car.

For every cookie swap and gift exchange, I bring in the usual holiday linens and cake stands from home. But this year I added a few elements. The small wooden sled (I bought 2 from some home decor store, just can't remember which one) became serving pieces. And my nativity candle carousel, one of Harleigh's favorites from her childhood and an item that had been hiding in the attic for years, made an appearance and created quite the oohs and aahs. Seems it's just as magical to adults as it is to the kids. Needless to say, it will come down every year to be enjoyed at home and work.

[Photos courtesy of Witt Langstaff]

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Coming back after a break

It took a trip to Ingles yesterday, where I ran into a friend, to make me reconsider my sudden leave from blogging. Melinda came right out with it. "So, what's up with the blog????" Her sincere expression of missing my postings (coupled with the emails I've received from readers asking "why the departure?"), is boost enough. I know I don't have a big readership, by any stretch of the imagination, but that a handful of people missed me, well, it reminded me of all the blogs that I've loved that have gone away. Maybe these long-lost gals, like me, were wooed by the ease of Instagram. Maybe blogging simply got to be too much pressure or work. It is daunting, I must admit. At least for me.

So, I'm gonna give it another go. And a tried and true one. In this post, I'll catch everyone up on some Instagram postings. But for the most part, I'll really really really try to keep the posts fresh and exclusive to blogpost.

My sister got this pink ceramic snack server for me and I tucked some Shiny Brite ornaments inside. These are reproduction ones that I found at TJ Maxx 
(even came in the sweet cardboard, divided, cellophane-front box), 
and will keep my eyes open for other designs 
(at a mere fraction of the cost of the real vintage ones).

Kasey's family, The Browns, included me in on one of their many holiday traditions. 
Pre-Christmas-day gift opening with a part of their family includes the children reading marked passages from the Bible story of the Birth of Jesus. 
The children's voices reminded me of Linus reciting the Christmas story on the stage 
in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Magical.

Part of my stash in a pile ready to be packed away. 
I'm not a purist when it comes to one color scheme or certain pairings of colors. 
My holiday decor is a free-for-all of all that I love.

Harleigh made her Iced Mollys this year (thanks, Molly!), always in snowflake shapes. 
This girl is a pro at rolling pin cookies. And she can get them super thin, 
always a plus for a good sugar cookie in my book.
She doesn't rely on the timer to tell her when the cookies are done. 
Instead, she posts herself in a chair in front of the oven and watches them bake into the perfect color.

Santa brought Harleigh her own cupcake holder (holds 24 cupcakes; another find from TJ Maxx). 
One of her favorite gifts. 
And why not? Every girl needs one of these.

Gideon got this giant bone. I swear, there are dents in the drywall from when 
he decided to bring this down the hallway into my bedroom.

This year I got back into the tradition of cookie delivery to the neighbors. 
(In years' past, my schedule was so hectic, that cakes had to suffice.)
Harleigh doesn't do the deliveries anymore, pulling her little red wagon and wearing a Santa hat.
Instead, the neighbors get me, wearing a Christmas sweater.

I was tired of The Eiffel Tower on our coffee table not being able to turn around so that pictures 
could be easily viewed without falling off. I dug around for this lazy susan. It works!

My sister-in-law got me these vintage elves. How cute? 
Sitting together they look like three little brothers ready to get into trouble.

2103 and Gideon is ready for a nap. That is one spoiled dog.

I got my Christmas cards out just in the nick of time. 
And enjoyed writing them in a warm bed with Gideon hogging all the covers.

Lots of sickness this holiday season. Harleigh in bed, pouting and with a box of Kleenex.

Our disheveled little living room. 
You are always welcome to come curl up on a slipcovered sofa, 
cover yourself in an afghan and read a good book.
It's a room meant to be happily lived in.

Simply lounging.

I'm getting more and more into growing my Fontanini nativity scene. 
Thanks to sister Karla, added a donkey and a camel this year.
I put a light behind the manger scene this year, and the effect (below) was so pretty 
as the light shone through the window over the Baby's head.

A little boy up the street sells poinsettias every year for his baseball team's fundraiser. 
They are very affordable and the healthiest you could ever ask for! I got pink ones this year.
Next year I'm going to cover the pots (which come in the standard colored foil) 
with pretty fabric.

After the gifts are opened, there's napping (dog) and texting (daughter) to do.

One of his toys had a rough go of it. That's the fun of stuffing. Ripping it out.

Co-worker Julie got me two vintage Santa mugs. Coffee every morning was better, I swear.

More gathering of decorations to go up to the attic. 
This blue enamelware tub holds pink silk and glittered poinsettias.
The vintage sleigh I found at Goodwill years ago for $10 
and used it for decor this year for the first time!

On the night that Harleigh arrived home from college for the holiday break, 
I told Gideon "Harleigh's coming home!" which I do only minutes before she arrives, 
because he sits at the front door and doesn't budge. 
I snapped this picture as her headlights came up the driveway.

Over the break, Kasey's mom, some relatives, and two of the boys' girlfriends 
(Harleigh being one!), went to see West Side Story. 
I was supposed to go but had a wedding to do. 
I thought she looked adorable in this vintage dress, tights and heels.

To my faithful blog readers who aren't on Instagram, I hope I redeemed myself a bit with this post. To my Instagram buddies (who also take a peek at my blog), hope you'll forgive a rewind on images. Thanks to all for your patience!

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