Behind My Red Door

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Have Met the Nicest People Online...

I am a people person - no two ways about it. I enjoy being with people, helping people, chatting with people, meeting new people and finding out what interests them. I especially like peeking into their homes and meeting their families. I have met some of the kindest and sweetest ladies since I uploaded pics of our home online on Webshots and on RMS, and now through blogging. Earlier this month I posted about meeting my new friend Kathy in person after chatting online for a few months. It was great!

As bloggers like to do, Kathy told me about the blog of a very sweet gal named Karen. Karen's My Yellow Farmhouse soon became one of my favorite blogs to visit and her home pictures on Webshots lured me back time and again. We call it lurking! To say Karen is a very talented lady is an understatement. She has a lovely home and I so enjoy seeing her newest quilt or sewing project, her amazing wool creations - especially the penny rugs, her newest treasures, her beautiful seasonal decorating and her yummy recipes. I always wish I had been invited to her get together to see and taste it all in person. Too bad she is so far away - well, maybe it is good for her I live so far away - I just might show up uninvited!

While reading some of Karen's older posts, made before Kathy even first told me about the blog, I came upon this picture of an adorable tray Karen had displayed. For those that don't know, this is painted to resemble a wool penny rug - so named because of the wool "pennies" that are stitched in a blanket stitch. Kathy and I had talked many about our love of penny rugs and I also knew that Karen was an expert at this art. I thought the tray was so cute that I actually saved this picture to my online file of 'things to make' - hoping I could find the right size bowl or tray to try and create something similar in paint.

Well jump a few weeks ahead and after meeting Kathy in person, I found out that her birthday was coming up and of course, being a card maker, I had to make her just the right card. Karen's tray came to mind and I decided to try to recreate the design of the tray in paper - in other words, a paper wool penny rug - LOL! I opened that picture to my computer screen, gathered my card stock, stamps, markers and glue and knowing that the mail to New Brunswick would take several days longer than in the US, I quickly got to work and created this card and sent it off to New Brunswick right away. I was so pleased with my little card, I proudly showed it to my husband and even he noted that it looked the picture on my computer screen.

Lo and behold, the day after I mailed the card, Karen posted a give away on her blog. She had found another one of those adorable trays that I had so coveted, and anyone who left a comment would have their name entered in the drawing. Of course I entered the drawing! Mine was #15. I checked later and there were well over 100 entries for the drawing so I didn't hold out much hope. I think the only thing I have ever won is tickets to a Patriots game. But that was really a raffle and I spent a lot of money on the tickets and made several trays of lasagna for the event so I probably spent more than the tickets were worth! LOL

Before long, Kathy got back home to New Brunswick and her card arrived and she told me she loved it and that it reminded her of the tray on Karen's blog. It was a success - my little card was just what I wanted it to be.

At that time, Karen was away from home, very busy at a quilters show and she squeaked in just enough online time to tell her 'peeps' that just before she left for the show, her hubby drew a number from the entries and it was #15, her son's hockey number through the years, and MY LUCKY NUMBER! MINE - ME - MOI - the one who had so loved that tray that she saved the picture and even created a card to resemble it. ME! I was so excited. I felt like a little kid!

Fast forward to yesterday, after a harrowing drive home in a torrential downpour, hail and lightening and walking into a hot and muggy house I was starting to feel a little grouchy. Then Mr. Mailman knocked on the door and handed me a package. I saw the return address and got so excited. Bye bye grouchies. When I opened it, I found this lovely wrapped tray and some extra sweet treats as well - an adorable pen made from a teeny wooden rolling pen, the cutest recipe cards and a homespun dish towel. I just love homespun towels, and recipe cards, and anyone that knows me, knows I don't leave just any pen out in the kitchen and now I have the perfect one.

After snapping the picture, I could hardly contain my excitement and I opened the little card - also cleverly made to look like a penny rug. I then tore into the tissue paper, and there was my sweet little tray. It is even sweeter in person! It was like Christmas in May!!

So the next thing was to decide where should I put it. Oh so many possibilities! First I tried it on my dining room step back cupboard. Looks great doesn't it??

But you know me, I have to move things around so I tried it on my settle bench. Looks great there too, doesn't it?!!

And then I tried it on top of my computer desk, where I spend hours each day, and it looks great there too doesn't it? Decisions, decisions! I just couldn't decide - so for now it is here in my craft room/office and I am enjoying it tremendously.

Karen, you have a kind and generous heart and I thank you so much for having such a wonderful give away, and please thank your dear hubs for picking my number out of the bowl.

Until next time - hugs, Linda

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Do My Best Thinking…

in the shower!! I really do. Not always though – when the kids were babies and toddlers, I was lucky to even get a shower – never mind actually exercise my brain and do any creative thinking! About the most creative thinking I did back then was to come up with a new strategy to keep them safe and occupied the next day so I could sneak in another shower.

But the kids got older and I had a little more peace and quiet in the shower every morning. When I began working at the nursery school, I found it was the perfect time to go over the days curriculum plans. My co-teacher and I had usually planned out the basic details weeks in advance to make sure we had the appropriate supplies, books, etc. But when I got in the shower and began to run through the day ahead, I often came up with scenarios we hadn’t thought of so far ahead of time. I would show up at work anxious to tell my co-teacher and aides why we needed to alter the plan. Luckily for me, I worked with the greatest group of talented, creative, warm and giving ladies you could ever hope to work with. They humored me and went with the flow, usually with great results.

Now that I no longer work outside the home, I often come up with my shopping lists, packing lists, card verses, and to do lists while I am in the shower. While the warm water washes down on me, I seem to see things more clearly. Now I have a new problem though - I have CRS ~ Can’t Remember Stuff! So when I get out of the shower, I have forgotten all my great lists and ideas! When this first started happening, I would quickly write my ideas down as soon as I shut off the water. I kept my trusty pen and paper handy and quickly dried off and began jotting down ideas. These days, that no longer works. By the time I am done with my grooming routine and shut the water off, and dry my hands, instead of remembering the perfect card verse, I am thinking that I need to replace my razor blade, or refill my shampoo bottle.

When I mentioned that to my daughter Jen, she came up with the perfect solution and for Mother’s Day she gave me the neatest little gadget – an Olympus digital voice recorder! This is not one of those cheap little things “As Seen On TV” – this is a real high tech gadget! Jen explained that I can set up different folders to keep my thoughts organized according to use. She suggested that I could have a folder for my ChemoAngel gift and card ideas, another for my craft ideas, another for gardening, one for my shopping lists and even one for blogging thoughts. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness and how she had even thought about the things important to me. What a great idea. I can keep it right by my the shower and just reach out and turn it on and start talking and all my brilliant ideas will be saved for future reference. Thanks sweetie – what a thoughtful gift and idea and I really appreciate it. My new digital voice recorder is going to be a huge help…

as soon as I can remember how to turn it on.

Until next time – hugs, Linda

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day Remembrance

For many, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. Around our neck of the woods, many people head to Cape Cod or Hampton Beach for the first time this season. We get our annuals planted, our deck furniture out, and many even have the first big cook out of the season. The car dealerships have their huge Memorial Day sales and every store's sales ads are plastered with red, white and blue. But Memorial Day is much more than that and we need to remember it's true meaning. Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. It is a day of remembrance for those who have died in the service of our nation. Unfortunately so many are still dying today in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the globe.

So this weekend, show your colors and display your flags, attend your town's Memorial Day observance's, place a flag on the grave of a Veteran, stop and say prayer in a moment of thanks to honor those who gave their lives so we can remain a free nation. It is the least we can do, don't you think?
Until next time - hugs, Linda

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Everyday Dishes

Cathy, from Hazelruthes challenged us on this Show Me ~ Wednesday to show off our every day dishes and tell a little bit about them. Well that was a no brainer for me - I love my dishes - both sets and I set the table with them every evening.

When my hard working hubby comes home from a long day at the office, this is often what the table actually looks like. Now that we are empty nesters, I only need to set the table for two and I can indulge in place mats and a tablescape for the season. I am blessed with two great sets of dishes that work nicely with each other and with my other pottery, stoneware and redware. I love to mix and match the pieces when I set the table for every day or for guests. I don't do china - I haven't for a long time and what you see is what you get whether you come to supper on a Wednesday, or to Sunday dinner.

I started collecting Pfaltzgraff Folkart dishes sometime in the late 80's when I decided NOW I am going to get dishes that I really like. They were often gifts from family for birthdays and Christmas. I have place settings for twelve and a few of the serving pieces as well - though I mostly use stoneware serving pieces. In the eary 90's I started collecting my Blue Bennington Pottery dishes as my Sunday best with the goal of giving the kids the Pfaltzgraff dishes someday, and just using the Bennington pieces. I have place settings for ten and a some accessories as well.

Now that our kids are grown and on their own, they have their own taste and so I still have both sets. I have thought about selling the Pfaltzgrafff set, but because we hope grandkids will come along in the next few years, I tell myself I should keep some of the Pfaltzgraff pieces - they are quite a bit more durable and a lot less expensive than my Bennington collection! So for now, I use both sets.

Last year, I decided to stop hiding my dishes and I took the doors off 2 cabinets and now I proudly show them off. And added benefit is that it sure makes setting the table and emptying the dishwasher a lot easier!

I love my plate rack which holds more of my dishes. Someday, I hope to have an open pantry to show off all my dishes and pottery pieces. They are just too pretty to hide!

If you'd like to join in Show Me ~ Wednesday and show off your dishes, visit Cathy's blog for the rules. Thanks for stopping by and until next time - hugs, Linda

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunflowers and Watermelons

Watermelon and sunflowers - what could be more symbolic of summer. I found the free pattern (by Alice Fleury for Wilma's Wimzees) for these ornies or bowl fillers online and decided to tackle them a few weeks ago. They came out pretty good and they look perfect in my old bowl, sitting on my new summer runner on my coffee table don't you think?
UPDATE: link to free pattern - sunflowers and watermelon slices

My next project~ in between more gardening and spring cleaning~ is much more of a challenge. My friend Kathy made the gorgeous wool penny rug pictured under What's In The Works over on the left side. She was very kind to share the pattern with me so I am going to make one as well. I have done pillows and smaller penny rugs so I know what I am doing - the challenge is in finishing it. I tend to like things I can whip up quickly! Wish me luck!

Until next time - hugs, Linda

Saturday, May 17, 2008

To Plant a Garden....

"To Plant a Garden is to believe in tomorrow". I don't remember where I read this but I like it - don't you? Anyone who plants a garden tries to imagine what it will look like in the weeks, months and even years ahead. Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate, and critters can destroy a lot of hard work in a few days, but gardeners are a pretty resilient group I think and the thought of a better tomorrow keeps us going.

David and I both grew up watching our mom's garden extensively. They both have green thumbs. Annual, perennials and vegeatable gardens were just part of our growing up. We both had backyards bordered by gardens and we both grew up with fresh vegetables n the table all summer. And while they have slowed down a little, both of our mom's still garden today. How could I not have gardens in our yard? I started a garden as soon as we had our first house in 1977 and have been experimenting ever since. I love to get out there in the spring and get it started, see what survived the NE winter, and find new plants at the nurseries, and because we have full sun on the front of our house all day, my front garden comes to life pretty early in the season.

Even though it is commonly held that we shouldn't plant frost tender plants until after Memorial Day in my neck of the woods, I still get started weeks before. For so many years, my schedule revolved around the school year. We always had a break during the third week in April and I would clean up my beds, the yard and get my planters and garden decor out and cleaned up. Then as soon as May hit I would replace and move perennials and shortly after, I had my window boxes and containers planted. By mid May, I was pretty much done with the planting, leaving 'just' the maintenance and weeding and watering and feeding! But this year, with the wedding trip, then the reception, followed by Mother's Day and rainy weekends, I feel like we still have so much left to do. And since Mother nature is not going to cooperate once again this weekend, I'll share a few pictures I took the other day. At least it's a start and my perennials are filling out.

This is between the garage and the front steps. It is what I see coming and going every day so I wanted something that pleases me - and it does!

Just a start on the deck. I still have some more old furniture and other planters to get out. My rocker needs another coat of paint too. And I won't even mention how badly the deck needs power washing and painting. Ugh!
At least the two window boxes are done!

Last fall we had to have two diseased pine trees cut down from the front left corner of our yard so I need to fill in the space a bit. Those are red impatiens and blue lobelia in the old wheel barrel. Maybe this will be my patriotic corner. Any ideas?

I think I need to replace two perennials in front of my little bench but I need to be a wee bit more patient and see if they start to green up a bit but for now this will do.

Maybe if these fill in nicely, no one will pay attention to the ugly but necessary downspout?
YYup, it's just a start! Thanks so much for taking an early season tour of some of my gardening. Until next time - hugs, Linda

Friday, May 16, 2008

Show and Tell Friday - Nany's 'Medicine' Cabinet

I decided to make this my Show & Tell Friday post! Please stop over at Kelli's house to see how to join!
Nany was my mom's mom. When I was growing up, Nany lived in a huge old Gothic Victorian just outside downtown in the city close to where I now live. It was a neighborhood originally built by the well to do and the houses were ornate and expansive. Nany's house had several different living quarters, several smaller hidden staircases in addition to the large one in the massive front hall, a dumb waiter, a root cellar, a cupola that could be used as a lookout at one time, several large marble fireplaces, and lovely stain glassed windows. The additional living quarters were originally meant for servants I suppose. But by the time I was born, Nany was a widow and rented out rooms and living quarters to boarders to earn income to maintain the large old house. It was an interesting old house filled with interesting old things. To furnish it, Nany had gone to estate sales and bought entire rooms- everything that was in the room, also came with the furniture so she had a lot of 'stuff'.

When Nany could no longer live alone she moved in with my folks. My mom inherited much of the old furniture and some was offered to me. Even back then I didn't care for the ornate cherry, mahogany or oak pieces. The few simpler pieces that I did like, either my mom wanted or Nany still used. One piece in particular was a small oak cabinet that locked. Nany called it her medicine cabinet but I suspect it held the kind of 'medicine' that was illegal during prohibition. It was my favorite thing of Nany's. It's simple lines and colorful history spoke to me. Nany is no longer with us and today I am the proud owner of that medicine cabinet.
And though it's oak finish is disguised right now and it no longer holds 'medicine,' it serves us well as an end table in our living room. And it still speaks to me and reminds me of the history and lore of Nany's big old house.

Until next time - hugs, Linda

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A little of this and a little of that...

First of all, if you see a change in my blog, I worked with Amber from Shabbee Chick Designs. It is hard to take the vision in your head and translate it to someone else via email. Thanks for your patience Amber! I love the stars and crows and bead board!

A friend asked me to update some pictures from around the homestead. She knows I am always moving things around and changing things for the seasons. Sure enough, I did some of that this week. I like to see my treasures in different places and it keeps things interesting. I have boxes in the attic with items for each season. I am a lot more selective now and only my favorites or things with special meaning to me get display time these days.

This is my new runner for the coffee table. I got this on my shopping trip to Pepperberry Cottage last week. I love the wool penny circles appliqued on each end. The colors in the flowers are wonderful - they will carry into early fall until it is time for my pumpkin runner.

It is hard to see but I have the cutest little garden glove and rusty pick and shovel hanging in the center of the back door wreath. It reminds me to get out and work in the garden every day. I started planting and hope to get more done between the rain in the next few days. Check back for updated pics later this weekend.

I love this little quilted and appliqued pillow with the rusty watering can, painted lady bug, yo-yo flower, old buttons and painted pot of herbs. It is a wonderful creation and it's what I call mixed media in it's best form!
If I quilted, I'd make one of these for each season.

The rattan garden glove is filled moss and has a wheelbarrel and garden tools on top. So clever and it looks great in my office. Another reminder to get back outside!

I added a little potted geranium to my settle bench and it is a cheerful way to greet anyone who goes down the hall.

This watermelon is slice is a larger version of the ones I am working on now. It reminds me of good things to come! Yummo!

I played around with the display on the top of my refrigerator and added my little Original 13 Colonies flag. I live in one of them after all!

I just love these appliqued towels because the are reversible. The other side has a crow so once the growing season ends, I flip them around until it is time for my autumn towels. Now that is what I call a bargain!

This little Patriotic doll was given to me by my dear friend Jean. The body is made out of an old pillowcase that came from Sweden. Isn't she sweet. Her body is filled with sand so she can stand tall. She looks great in my antique grain measure.
(For more pictures of our prim home, click on the photo of my little writing desk on the side bar or see the link to our Primitive Home Albums)
So that is all for now. The sun just came out so I am going to try to plant a few more herbs. Thanks for stopping by and until next time - hugs, Linda

Monday, May 12, 2008

You Are So Beautiful To Me

The song 'You Are So Beautiful To Me' by Joe Cocker has special meaning to me. When I went into labor a month early in 1981 and was told I would be having a c-section right away, the sex of our baby was the last thing on my mind. When the Dr. told me the baby was a girl, I was still listening for the APGAR score and then when I heard the number I wanted to hear, all of a sudden I realized he said we had a girl! I thought he was joking - after all it was just minutes before April fools day. How could I be so lucky to have 'one of each'! Within moments when David had a chance to see her and reported back to me that she was perfect, it started to sink in and I knew I would be able to buy pink dresses and add pink to the nursery and that our family was complete. I had my little girl and she was and is So Beautiful to Me. It wasn't long before that song soon became 'our song'. Even though Jen is now a lovely 27 year old smart, independent young woman living in her own apartment, we always find a way to connect when one of us hears that song on TV or the radio. I know it isn't part of the normal wedding reception protocol, but when Jen gets married, we will be dancing to our song.

Jen was the easiest baby. She ate and slept and had a wonderful disposition that lasted well into her teen years (nuff said!). And I did buy pink - oh did I buy pink clothes and I add lots of pink to her room. But as soon as she was able to express her opinions she decided she liked green too so pink and green became her colors. And with her stunning auburn hair and pretty green eyes, green was good and it worked.

When Jen was in preschool, some of the school moms told me about a delightful small dance school that offered classes for the little ones. It was more about games and movement and fun than about learning a routine for a recital. We enrolled Jen and after a few weeks of trepidation, she really enjoyed it. She was still very shy and I needed to stay in the waiting room every week that first year, but she had fun and that is what was important. She liked the school enough to go back for classes 2 more years until we moved from that town to where we now live.

When Jen was 6, we enrolled in her a new dance school in a neighboring town. She really loved it and now I could drop her off, go do errands and come back at the end of class. No matter how the rest of her day went, no matter how tired or cranky she might be, she always walked out of dance smiling. She loved her student teachers and started saying she wanted to do that someday. We soon nicknamed her our Dancin Darlin. She didn't walk down the hall, she leaped down the hall. When she went to grocery store with me, she twirled her way down the isles. She moved with such grace and had such agility. It delighted me because that was something I never had.

As Jen got older, she decided to try out for the competitive dance teams and before we knew it, she was taking class several days a week. Tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, toe - she loved it all. She was a natural and soon she won the 'Most Improved Student" award at her recital in June. She started student teaching and with the competitive dance teams, we were traveling to local, regional and national dance competitions and for several summers we went to Myrtle Beach for the Star Stopper's Nationals. As a freshmen in high school Jen tried out for cheer leading and made the Varsity Team on her first try - pretty impressive, but soon gave it up because she choose dance instead. It was her first love, and after school, her life revolved around dance- and that was her choice. I will never forget my awe when the curtain opened to the first number of the dance recital one year, and there, alone on the stage, with her back to the audience, was my daughter, tapping her foot, snapping her fingers and swaying her hips. She turned around, started dancing and the whole audience fel lquiet and watched. My little girl opened the show! I was so proud!

She continued to dance all through high school. A Chorus Line was one of my favortie numbers and Jen's kicks, as usual, were higher than anyone else in that kick line. Despite school work, a part time job and boyfriends, dance continued to be a huge part of her life. She even had the opportunity in the fall of her senior year to dance on a cruise to the Bahama's. Her dance team was part of the entertainment. That year she also took a private class and performed a solo performance in her last recital that June and she was stunning! It was a bitter sweet moment.

When Jen went off to college, she choose her school because of it's theater arts program and minor in dance and we once again had the thrill of watching her perform, but at a level so much more complex than anything offered at the small dance school she attended all those years. The head of the program told David and I that she was gifted. But college life, far from home, in a small town in the cold mountains didn't suit our Dancin Darlin so home she came in her junior year. Soon she was a working gal. Her dance life has been set upon a shelf for now. She still can do the splits like nobody's business and she sometimes leaps down the hall way, because she was and always will be our Dancin Darlin.

until next time - hugs, Linda

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I don't cook on Mother's Day!

Anyone that knows me, knows I love to cook and entertain but on Mother's Day - I DO NOT COOK! So today DH is cooking burgers and dogs on the grill. Our adult kids, my folks, my sister, her DH, my 2 young nieces, and our grand doggy Brady will all come here for a spring cook out. My only contribution to the meal (other than cleaning the house, setting the table, getting the condiments ready etc etc) is one of my favorite salad's - a broccoli salad that my dear friend Chris brought to a gathering of nursery school gals I had here last year. Since then, I can not get enough of this recipe. I decided I must have it on Mother's Day and I would not make the low fat version either. I am always finding ways to make recipe's heart healthy while still being tasty, but this is one recipe that I have to have in it's original version. And because it is NO COOK, it's fits right in to my Mother's Day rule.

4-5 cups broccoli florets

1 cup raisins (or 1 cup of dried cranberries at Christmas)

1 cup peanuts

1/2 cup chopped onion ( at this time of year it must be Vidalia!)

1 cup Hellman's mayonnaise - no substitutions!

2 tsp. cider vinegar and 2 tsp. sugar

In a small bowl, mix the mayo with the vinegar and sugar and toss with the rest of the ingredients. It is best when chilled for several hours or over night. Enjoy!

Everyone else is contributing to the meal as well and I made sure my mom and sister's contributions were NO COOK as well!

I often host the big family get-togethers and our table opens out to hold 12 of us if need be. But finding a tablecloth that size can prove to be costly. With a drooling dog, young kids and all of us crowded around the dining room table, I got tired of trying to get stains out of expensive tableclothes, yet I still wanted something as a back drop for my "table scapes." Despite the dog and kids, I still like my table to look nice. I finally hit upon a solution just for those big family gatherings. I bought a length of heavy duty fabric backed upholstery weight vinyl in a great taupe/tan color. I rounded the corners and because it is pliable it drapes nicely. And the color is just perfect under my Bennington Pottery and stoneware. It looks much nicer than a cheap plastic cloth yet is still very practical and clean up is a breeze! And my nice tableclothes are ready to use for the adult or smaller gatherings.

Time for me to set that table, but before I leave, I want to wish all those mothers that are reading this a very Happy Mother's Day.

Until next time - hugs, Linda

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A little bird watching

"Honey - quick, come see this outside!!" I couldn't imagine what David was hollering about. I hadn't heard anyone that excited to show me something since the kids were little and one of them found some critter or insect lurking in the yard or in the brook that runs along the back and side or our property. So I ran to the window in my office and opened the shutters and David was pointing to our Cherry Tree, which was fully in bloom. Flitting among the branches was the the most brilliant orange/yellow and black bird I had ever seen. He looked so pretty against the snowy white blossoms. He was clearly intent on gathering something. Maybe he was helping to feather a nest? Then again I have been saying that the tree has something wrong with it for a few years because the leaves turn brown and drop prematurely. Maybe he found caterpillar larvae ? I will never know but I do know he provided two middle aged folks with some viewing pleasure and then a discussion of what kind of bird he was. I was sure he was a Baltimore Oriole - David, not so much. Anyway, after watching him until he took off for greener trees, David came inside and got online and sure enough, I was AHEM- right. I guess I forgot to mention in my earlier post that my mom is also a bird watcher and the binoculars and bird book were never far from the bathroom window that looked out to our back yard when I was growing up. Some people read in the john, we watched wildlife.

Back to yesterday's post, I wanted to add some pictures of my gifts from Kathy. Here is the adorable gift bag and all of my goodies (minus a few candies that we have already devoured). And here are the two berries she made for me add to the ones I had made.
They really help to fill up my treenware bowl. Thank you again Kathy! I will treasure them always, as I do our new friendship!

Until next time - hugs, Linda

Friday, May 9, 2008

Kindred Spirits

Did you ever meet someone with eyes that sparkled and then found they had a personality to match? Well I did today! For a few months now I have been corresponding online with a wonderful gal named Kathy from New Brunswick, Canada. We met online through our love of decorating primitive style. Initially, we admired each other's homes (see the link to her Home on the Hill on the left under My Favorite Sites) but then we found out that our kids are the same ages and that we both went to North Conway, NH on our honeymoons less than one year apart and from there, we discovered we share so many other things in common as well. I love hearing about life in New Brunswick and I really enjoy reading her emails, and eagerly await the new pictures of her family, home and hand work that she shares with me.

so of course when Kathy and her husband Stephen planned a vacation to New England and Old Sturbridge Village, Kathy and I knew we just had to meet up. And today was the day. When I left my house the sun was still peeking out, but by the time I stopped for gas, I was caught up in a windy sideways blowing downpour. So much for styling my hair today because I got drenched! OH well - I wasn't about to let that stop me from enjoying meeting Kathy and her DH Stephen. I got to their hotel lobby a few minutes early and sat in one of the big overstuffed chairs by the fireplace and within moments, they were walking down the hall towards me and we greeted each other with big hugs. It was like seeing an old friend I hadn't seen in a long time. Now for all our Webshot friends that know us both only through our online pictures, Kathy is even prettier in person and her eyes really do sparkle and her smile is warm and genuine - just as I knew it would be.
We decided to walk across the street (in the wind and rain again) to an old tavern and over lunch we chatted and chatted. Time just flew by for me. Stephen is just as warm and genuine as Kathy and I really enjoyed meeting and chatting with him as well. They make a wonderful couple!
Not surprising - we both carried little gift bags and we traded little gifts. Kathy had made me 2 adorable strawberries to go with the ones I had made (hers are nicer!) and I also got some strawberry candies, a strawberry and a star mini cookie cutter and a New Brunswick speciality - Chicken Bones. Sweet little pink cinnamon hard candies in a log shape with bitter sweet chocolate inside. They are a local speciality and usually only available at the Holidays. YUMMO! What a treat! (pictures in my next post!) I had given Kathy some homespun fabric that is sometimes hard to find in New Brunswick, one of my handmade friendship cards (I even lined the envelope with matching paper) and a little Friendship Basket with Sweet Annie that I put together with a Friend Tag. It was so much fun!

After lunch, Stephen went back to the hotel and Kathy and I went off to one of my favorite primitive stores right down the street - The Handmaiden. We continued our non stop chatting while we looked around the store until finally it was time for me to drop Kathy off at her hotel and head for home. Our time together was all too short and as I drove away - I thought about the sentiment I had stamped inside her card "Sometimes good things happen to people.. like when you happened to me". That says it all for me!
Until next time - hugs, Linda

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Mother's Heart - Tribute to Mom

"A mother holds her children's hands for a moment, but their hearts forever". That is one of my favorite quotes. And I think it could be said in reverse too - don't you? I know I will hold my mom in my heart forever. That's her above on the right - the pretty one - in the summer of 1981 with her mom, my Nany, Jen when she was just a baby, and me - I am the one with the huge shades. (what's with those?) Jen rightfully calls her mamma, "the most beautiful woman in the world". That's her below- just this past Saturday at the reception. Isn't she just as beautiful as she was in 1981? Jen and I sure think so!!

I am one of the really lucky ones in this world. I have such an awesome mom! She is one of my best friends and I would NOT be the strong confident woman I am if it weren't for her. Actually I have to tell you right off the bat that I wouldn't be the wife and mom I am if it weren't for her. In 1972, when I was a junior in high school, she fixed me up with this really cute guy that worked at the drugstore where she was a bookkeeper. He worked there after classes at a local college and she thought he was a sweetheart. And as usual MOM KNOWS BEST. That cute guy and I will celebrate our 33rd anniversary next month. And she never lets me forget it - but that's OK.

I hardly know where to begin telling you all the wonderful, clever, talented, creative things my mom did as the four of us were growing up. I guess I can start right at the beginning because hanging in my bedroom is the Christening gown, little jacket and slip she made for me when I was baptized. The slip is cotton, and the dress and little jacket are eyelet lace with the teeniest buttons, snaps and bows. When I took them out to display them a few months ago, there were little felt baby shoes she hand sewed for us when we were babies. She made our Easter dresses, our winter coats with matching hand muffs, our back to school clothes and even learned how to make her own lined pinch pleat draperies and slipcovers for the furniture. When the six of us traveled cross country in a station wagon pulling a pop up tent trailer that we opend each night and closed each morning for six weeks - YES SIX WEEKS - my mom and sister and I had matching clothes. She was a saint to take four kids on a trip like that but she also made clothes for the trip! One fall, every evening after we were all in bed, she sewed dozens of Barbie and Ken doll outfits and all the little accessories that went with them as well. Have you ever seen how teeny those arm holes are? That was a very special Christmas surprise for me I tell you. Well every Christmas was special in our house with her handmade decorations and Christmas stockings.

Along with the Christening dress, also in my home are three oil paintings she did. One still life and portraits of each our kids when they were young. And several family members are the lucky recipients of the quilts she made - including the one she made for Jay's crib and Jen's bed.

When there was a bake sale at school, no plain old brownies for my mom -noooooo way! She baked whoopie pies - dozens and dozens of the best ones you have ever tasted. At Christmas time she made cookies that were works of art and so many different ones. In the summer she would make pickles and relishes and jams and jellies from the fruits and veggies in season or the ones she grew in her own backyard. I remember eating watermelon so she could pickle the rind. My mouth is watering now thinking of them. When we had lamb, we had homemade mint jelly to go with it - are you getting the idea? I cannot think of anything my mom couldn't and didn't do. She actually went to Girl's Trade School at night and learned just about every trade they offered. I think they finally said "Beverly, we have nothing left to teach you".

Of course she helped with Girl Scouts and was a Den Mother for Cub Scouts too. She always made every occasion or holiday special for our family. She made panoramic sugar eggs with little scenes inside for Easter and she blew the inside out of eggs and decorated the delicate shells and we had an Easter Tree. Of course there were never any store bought Halloween costumes in our house. We all had unique hand made ones. And every birthday, our cakes could have graced the cover of Woman's Day or Good Housekeeping. We had dolls and trains and rockets ship cakes. And Easter meant a Bunny Cake and there was a flag one on the FOurth of July with fresh berries. She did that before it was in style. And I can't forget her trademark meat stuffing for the turkey at Thanksgiving and the special Lithuanian dish we have only at Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving called Potato Kugelis. Yummo!

And she didn't stop when we grew up. She made my wedding dress, her Mother of the Bride dress, the flower girl's dress and decorated all the garden hats we wore. She would have made the cake too if someone didn't stop her! My first Christmas as a married woman, I got ornaments made from some of the leftover wedding dress lace. They still hold a place of honor on my tree every year.

When my kids were born, she started doing fun things for and with them. For a time, she and my dad lived on Cape Cod and every holiday - not just Christmas, but Easter, Halloween, you name it, she would makes cassette tapes for the kids and mail them to us. She would read the holiday stories from the magazines she bought, and she play songs on the piano and sing to the kids on the tape. We still have those tapes. Yes, she also plays the piano - very well. She plays every day still and her voice is as sweet and strong as ever. She painted designs on T-shirts and sneakers for the fourth of July and gave them their own sugar eggs as well. I know, I know, you are saying SHE IS MAKING THIS UP - no one could do all those things and be that creative and talented and I have to tell you it is the truth and I have witnesses!

When the kids got old enough, she would do crafts with them and cook with them and she would take Jason to the movies I didn't want to see and she would paint Jen's nails and toes and do her hair fancy and make jewelry with her. They would get to stay at Mamma's on the Cape for a treat, and she took them to the Herring Run and the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory and every other fun thing she could find. When they were older, she would drive back here for Jen's dance recitals and Jay's football games and their proms. That''s just the kind of Mamma she is. My kids adore her (and Bampa too.)

Well I could go on and on, but I think you have a good picture of the mom I have. Pretty special huh? Yup she sure is. As I said, I am one of the lucky ones in this world. I got to be her daughter. Happy Mother's Day Mom! You mean the world to me and David and the kids. We all love you very much. We are the lucky ones...

Until next time - hugs, Linda

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

One thing leads to another....

Does that ever happen to you? You do one thing and it leads to 20 other things? It is one of the constants in my life. I always seem to create more work for myself when I am trying to do the simplest of projects. My mind races ahead to other possibilities and before I know it, I have 10 projects going on. And that is just what happened the other day.

Despite not working there for 3 years now, much of my life is still on my old school year calendar schedule. I guess it takes a while to eradicate 18 years of influence. Typically I cleaned the winter mess out my perennial garden during April vacation, I did my biggest redecorating projects in the summer months when we had 3 months off and once school ended around Memorial Day, I took stock of the closets and cabinets and cleaned and organized. Well - mostly organized. My friends all know that I can be quite anal about organizing. I suspect it is a mild case of OCD, but I prefer to say that if I can put my hands on something I am looking for right away, it leaves me with more time to read, craft, make cards, garden, blog or whatever else I want or need to do. Makes sense, right?? So several years ago, when I was finally free from chauffeuring kids to dance and sports events, over seeing homework, getting grass stains out of football uniforms and sewing sequins and beads on dance costumes, I started organizing all the spaces in our home. . (humm - I can hear all you amateur shrinks now - was she replacing one need with another??) A place for everything and everything it it's place. All those organizing shows on HGTV and TLC certainly added fuel to my fire! Now, periodically I need to repeat the process because even I get a little sloppy about putting everything in it's place over time. There - MY SECRET IS OUT - sometimes I get sloppy! Shh - don't tell anyone!!

So this week, I started my organizing frenzy. One of my projects involved moving all of my sewing supplies into this room - my office/craft room - including bringing my cute little white colonial sewing box from the dining room side board in here. It looks great in here even though that now meant moving a bunch of other things around in this room - another project in and of itself. And of course, where to put all the fabric I brought in here? - that created yet another organizing project and all my Angel gifts and cards got pulled out and found new homes in here too. Finally, a few hours of mess later, I went back into the dining and room and took one look and realized my perfect display on the sideboard was now in need of help. I walked around the house at least a dozen times and tried several things in place of the missing sewing box and of course, nothing worked. What is a girl to do?

Luckily for me, Karrie Rogers, Shopkeeper of Pepperberry Cottage in Westborough, one of my favorite places to spend money, sent out an email with a coupon that expires before Mother's Day. Well, I couldn't let that kind of bargain go to waste, could I? So after doing my chores and Angel work, armed with my coupon, and some meager winnings from a slot machine in the Vegas hotel lobby, I headed down route 9. I was just in time to wish Karrie a safe trip to Vegas - she leaves today. I knew that I would find something to solve my 'decorating dilemma' and sure enough, tucked back in dark little a corner, I found this great stack of fabric covered boxes. I love the colonial look. My coupon was burning a hole in my pocket so I disturbed Karrie's perfect display and decided they were coming home with me. (And Karrie can go off to Vegas and take my meager winnings back with her to replenish the Vegas economy.) They are perfect in the dining room and bring a much needed splash of color to that side of the room - don't you think?

I found some other goodies as well - a wonderful runner for the coffee table for the summer, a neat berry candle ring and a new valance for the bathroom. My meager winnings are all gone but all is well in my decorating world - for the moment anyway. It's a good thing!

Speaking of decorating, I am off to answer a dear friend's request to help her with some of her decorating needs. Humm - maybe this could be my newest career??

Until then - hugs, Linda

Our Family of Five

For over 27 years, we were a family of four. We were so blessed to have one son and one daughter - one of each as people say. We enjoyed the rough and tumble little boy Jay, who grew into the strong and fine young man, and the sweet and feminine little girl Jen, who grew into a strong and fine young woman. And now we are blessed with a wonderful new daughter in law, Angela.

The wedding reception was wonderful! We really enjoyed celebrating their recent marriage with family and friends. It rained but that could not put a damper on the festivities and fun. And the White Cliffs was the perfect setting for our photo's when we couldn't be outside. It was a perfect ending to almost 2 weeks of wedding excitement. Please enjoy a few pictures from the reception in this slideshow. Wedding Reception

Until next time - hugs, Linda

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Why Blog?

I am coming to learn that there are 2 kinds of people in this world - those who 'get' blogging and those who don't. And while I have no proof and I haven't done any research on the subject, I strongly suspect that those of us who enjoy reading other folks blogs and writing our own, are the same type of people we might describe as 'people watchers' - voyeurs of sorts. I know that describes me.
I actually enjoy getting the so called politically incorrect newsletters and pictures of my friend's kids in the card at Christmas time. I enjoy peeking into others homes as we drive by at night -in the most innocent way of course. For the most part, I enjoy seeing how other people live, how they decorate, what they do in their daily lives that makes them different or similar to me. I am even not afraid to admit there are some 'reality' shows that I hate to miss just because I like seeing human dynamics at work. (Not because I believe that any of them are 'real life' - I didn't get to be 53 without a little reality check !!) I just find other people fascinating! I always have and I am sure that is part of the reason my careers have alway been centered around people. And I must not be alone because I am finding that there are more blogs to read than I would have time for even if that was all I did every day.
Sure there are plenty of blogs originally created by artists peddling their wares, but even most of those show us a glimpse into the artist's personal life. And they have some very fascinating lives if you ask me!! Not only do they create wonderful treasures, they also write engaging stories. When I first started my blog, I fancied that I would be doing that, but some how between the trip to Vegas and the wedding reception, my brain has fogged over a bit. All those clever ideas I forgot to write down are lost in my mental cyber space somewhere. I have CRS - Can't Remember Stuff - as my dear old friend Jean calls it, or Mentalpause -as my new friend Kathy calls it. Either way, I promise I will try to find my brain and my creativity soon and post something interesting so that you want to come back!
In the meantime, please tell me what you think about blogs!! Do you have any favorites you want to share with me? Please let me know. You can comment anonymously even - how easy does it get? Make up a name even. I promise I'll find more hours in my day to check them out and include links here if the author permits!

Until next time - hugs, Linda

Friday, May 2, 2008

Some Pics From Vegas

Slide show of our trip to Vegas! Enjoy! Las Vegas Wedding Trip
Until next time, Hugs, Linda

Looking forward to Part Two….

Wow – one more night and then and it will be the day of the formal reception! Despite already going to Vegas, I can’t believe tomorrow is almost here. I am really excited! Just a few weeks ago it seemed like there was still so much left to be done! After months of planning and making and creating and assembling, all the hard stuff is done. On Tuesday we dropped off the centerpieces, favors, programs, courtesy basket, after dinner mints, cake knife and server and everything else at the White Cliffs. All that is left to do tomorrow is have my hair and nails done, get “prettied up” and wait for the photographer here at the house. After he takes pics of Angela and her parents at their house, he will stop here on the way to the White Cliffs. We are wearing formal clothing for Part Two ~ Angela has a new wedding gown, Jay, the dads and his best friend Andy will wear tuxes, Melissa has her bridesmaid’s gown, Jen has a new gown, and Lori and I have the appropriate Mother of the Bride/Groom evening attire (and I even have new jewelry to match) and so we will pose for all the requisite formal pictures. The limo will then stop here to pick up Jen and I, and the guys will follow shortly thereafter to keep Jay a safe distance away from Angela’s arrival. This time, Jay won’t see Angela until her dad has the pleasure of walking her up the grand staircase and “giving her away.” Because only seven of us went to Vegas, our family friend, The Honorable John J. Curran Jr. (Jack) will officiate a short renewal of their marriage vows for the pleasure of Angela’s family as well as the rest of our family and friends. THEN we can party! I am so looking forward to celebrating their marriage in style. Next week I will put together an album or slide show of pictures of part One and Two. Until then, hugs, Linda