Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Everything is broken...

Here's to a new year...my computer is really messed up (no computer geeks until after the new year...my ice maker is broken....my cell phone is broken...I am under some sort of end of the year curse...but, all is not lost...somewhere, (I am pretty sure it's under my bed somewhere...) my sense of humor is hiding out...

I had strep, and now, I have the flu..so, I am going to drink a hot toddy, and tuck in -
See you in the New Year.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

I Should Have Kept it on....

If I had, maybe I could have joined my lovely 88 year-old mother in law, and my husband in church...this evening, and tomorrow, but noooooooooo...oh well.

I need to rely on my sense of humor, twisted as it is, to get through these times..
That said, we are actually having a lovely time..other than the sick part.

Have a blessed Christmas...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Have No Idea Why....

I have no idea why: I have strep throat for Christmas...or why, when I upload a photo, it shows up on the blog, but where I am writing...it's all in "code"...Enough with the Codes...in the nodes and in the post.

I am going back to bed now...

Cranberries and Lillies (sp?)

Latest Floorcloth..just sold it today..nearly ruined it, but that's another story..

Can anyone tell me why it's doing this...??

Berry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The House is Sleeping

You may know the phrase, "the lights are on, but nobody's home"...usually, it refers to someone who is "not so bright".
My husband chose to turn in early, and I love the house when it's this quiet...peaceful, not lonesome...although, I did find myself just sobbing this afternoon, listening to Elvis singing, "Blue Christmas"...my mother-in-law is coming, but once again, my son and his family won't be able to join us...just a bit of Christmas blues...but, I digress.

It's no wonder they set Christmas (for they really don't know the exact time of year...or so I've heard) to coincide with the darkness this time of year brings...we need light, and hope, and joy to bring us though the darkness, don't we? This is why I love the wreath in my bedroom...I snuggle down in my bed and enjoy the doves, passing the silver roping to one another...it comforts me.

So, I wander around the house with my camera, which can only pick up so much light, but I despise a strobe or flash, and would rather have the mystery of what isn't shown, as opposed to the glare of what is there... In the kitchen, I find the wonderful "Three Hens" ornament I've attached to our cake stand...My darling friend, Cam, sent it to me...I couldn't wait until Christmas to open it. She remembered I have a line of greeting cards I've named "Here A Chick" Greetings...I miss her so.

We (okay, my husband)moved our Ficus in from the porch, as the hard frosts have hit Texas...I have lit it, and the lights are the kind that fade in-and-out...I love it, even though it practically eats our small dining room.

My hand-painted glass, my wreath, and a lone Belschnickel (someday, I will know the proper spelling) adorn a sideboard that my husband put together from a kit I got at the Clearance Dock at JC Penny's - $50....

Miss Gussie Plushbottem Goodcat is snuggled in my bergere chair, that I got for $100, as it had literally fallen off the back of a truck...original price - $1,000....She seldom curls up in it, but tonight, everything feels warm and cozy.

I walk outside, and the neighborhood is unusually quiet, as we have dogs that love to bay at the moon (I don't have dogs, but the neighbors do, and they don't seem to mind the howling)...Tonight, I can hear the wind in the trees, and can appreciate my tiny, tinsel tree, peeking through the sidelight of our front door. It looks inviting..the only place I've used colored lights...

I don't go bazoo with the outside lights...just a few topiaries, lit, and a couple of pecan trees, wrapped in bee lights...There are too many inflatible santas, some even driving convertibles, adorning the neighborhood.....I have nothing against them, but am strictly a white light person myself.

And so, with that, and a wonderful cup of hot cocoa, I am unplugging all those lights, (except for the wreath in the bedroom, at least for awhile...and tucking in on a cold, winter's night...'night.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What a Weekend!

I seem to recall in my last post, writing about shampooing the high-traffic areas of our carpets....My husband was scheduled to play golf, but it was rainy and cold, so he (God love him) volunteered to do the whole thing. We have stained concrete throughout the house, except for the bedrooms and our offices (which are bedrooms in disguise), so that adds up to four rooms, which are fairly large...and lots of cat hair...and places where our darlings had deposited hairballs (ew)...This was Saturday, and we were entertaining two couples on Sunday around five...plenty of time, I thought...HA! I had thought about having it done professionally, but a husband is so much less expensive....First, there was the removal of the furniture, and when we took the mattress and box springs off the bed, I nearly fainted...If I were the Board of Health, I would have shut the place down. I am embarrassed and disgusted, and although we love our 13-year-old cats, we have decided that, when they finally go to their reward, no more cats...maybe a dog (or two), that can't fit under a bed. We worked well into the night on Saturday.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny, and since we were doing a pot-luck thingy, I didn't have tons of cooking to do (crock pot chicken wings (very yummy), bought some grapes, made some blue-cheese dressing to dip the wings, some crackers and cheese, and a big bottle of wine).
What took alot of time was putting everything back; we had put aluminum foil on all the feet of the furniture, to prevent it "wicking"....and I thought it would be dry by early the next day...not so...so the foil remains...I did tie a few silver bows around the legs of my dressing table in the bedroom, and with the bird wreath and silver ribbons, it looked quite festive...the bed, not so much..
I was rummaging about in one of the giant Totes in my garage, and came across my starfish...I had put silver dragees' on them last year, and loved them...I also had this wonderful, gold seaweed wreath, so decided the bathroom could use a bit of decorating...just stuck the starfish in, along with a few seashells. I just noticed that one of the cross towel hooks is crooked...oh well. I shot this early in the morning...our bathroom is not this color, although, I kind of like it....the sun was just coming up, and the warmth of the light really changed the colors of the walls...
Glass block would not have been my first choice in our master bath, but the house was three-quarters finished when I found it, and it was done. Considering our property has several acres of woods behind us, and privacy isn't an issue, I would have loved to have a regular window...Oh well.
I lived on Cape Cod for years, and collected lots of seashells, and they are now gracing the deck of our tub.....along with sea sponges, and an orchid.

So, the carpets were cleaned, the chicken wings prepared; everything was set out nicely on our island in the kitchen, the bon bons were in my hand-painted tall cake plate domes (or bon bon domes, as the case may be). The music was set up, the candles were lit, and I was ready for my guests. I usually use fabric napkins, even for every day...I feel they are ecological, and I like the feel of them..even though they may not be ironed when it's just the two of us...This time, since everything was finger food (my guests were bringing shrimp and a vegi plate), I would use paper napkins...I was at the supermarket at 6:30 in the morning, and all I could find in the rectangular napkins were red, green and white...I bought white, and ten minutes before the doorbell rang, I decided they needed to be more "festive", so I rummaged through my stamp collection and found the "Peace" stamp. I could now qualify as the "fastest stamper in the West"..I liked the stamp so well, that I think I will use it on my Christmas cards.

My friend, Diana, laughed as I opened the front door, and said, "how much did you have to pay to have the deer grazing in your yard as we pulled up?"...She said, "I could just hear you saying..."que the deer"!
I'm cheating a bit here...this is a shot I took last summer...the deer have their "winter coats" on right now. Oh well...
On a serious note, this was my beloved, favorite deer, "Shadow", who followed me about, looking wistful, thinking, "corn?, will she give me corn?"...sadly, she was murdered by my neighbor across the street...no sport in killing tame deer in your back yard, I'd say. That's fine, I put a curse on his house, and he moved away..but, I shall always miss my girl...

I bring this up because I came across our wire deer, that holds our Christmas cards -thus far, only one card...it's early yet. I also found an "Elmer Fudd" hunter's cap ornament, so in honor of Shadow, I put it on her head, and stuck a toothpick in a cranberry, and created "Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer Hunter" deer....revenge is sweet...I couldn't figure out how to make a gun for her, but instead, in the spirit of Christmas and forgiveness (not quite), I put a Peace Dove in her antlers. Oh well.

Speaking of the "Deerly Departed" (sorry, I couldn't help myself)...this is my "Gizmo", who several years ago, died in my arms...I was just crushed. I caught him on my dining room table, admiring a floral arrangement a friend had sent us for our anniversary. He was busted...I love this photo, and I've posted it for a reason...see below...

This is "Grey Ghost Gussie Plushbottem Good Cat"...busted her this morning on the kitchen table, inspecting the silver and crystal swans. Had to use a flash to get the shot, as I was sneaking up on her...hence the eyes......She's a good girl, and I can always clean the table...it did remind me of my Gizmo....

So, I said I would never have cats again, but I do love them so...hairballs and all......maybe we will get more...(my husband won't let me..I'll just bet)..oh well.

I am exhausted from the weekend...and blessed, because I am going to go take a nap...There are some advantages to being self-employed...this is one of them...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Yesterday Was "One of Those Days"

Yesterday was one of those' "other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?" days (okay, politically incorrect, but Abe had a sense of humor, in fact, one great quote from many was, 'They say I am two-faced; if I had two faces, why would I be wearing this one'). Anyway, I was on my way to the new resale shop here in Georgetown, and as I was backing out of my garage, I heard a terrible "Whomp" , and the garage door had come down on my car..making a scratch on the back windshied, and the car had bumped out the garage to the point that I thought we would have to replace it. So, children, always make sure your garage door is ALL the way up, before backing out.
I called my husband, and was so shrill I am sure only dogs could hear me, and he was late for a meeting and couldn't talk...just said, "sorry". So, I called the garage guy, and he said a new door would cost $650.00 (gulp-there goes Christmas), but after he had seen it, he fixed it - for $96.00, and other than a few, small dents at the very bottem, it's fine...praise the Lord.

Today, I am cleaning high-traffic areas of the carpet, so haven't had much time to make fruit, or much of anything else, so I thought I'd share some photos of the "Ghosts of Christmas Past"...We are having friends in tomorrow evening, and being obsessive-compulsive, everything has to be as close to perfect as possible.
I loved my garden bunny, and he was very "seasonal", spending the spring and summers in the lovely garden, and gracing my coffee table for Christmas. I gave him to a wonderful friend of mine when I left, as she was ill, and admired him so much.....
Our house in Wisconsin was so very different than our Texas home. I was sort of in my "Victorian" period then, and instead of "less is more", more was more. I did make the footstool, and yes, gave that away, as well. Gussie Plushbottem Goodcat is warming herself by the fire. It's a gas fireplace, and I like our real, wood-burning better, as the gas give a nice ambiance, but you might as well cut a hole in the roof as far as being energy efficient.

This is Raisenette Funicello Buttafuco Badcat...with the erie eyes..he and Gussie took turns, trying to get the decorations off the staircase. This was before I painted it all white...looked so much better than the orginal "spec house" oak that is everywhere in WI.

Gussie is much smarter than Raisen...she opens cabinet doors, and rummages around, while Raisen can sit for hours by a partially open door, trying to figure out how to get through it..God love him.
With the winters being so long, cold, and dreary, I painted our walls a raspberry, and then, put a tobacco glaze over them. Before I left, I painted the mantel white...much prettier.

This was our "big back yard"....I dont' miss the cold...........................................................at all.

My beautiful friend, Cam in Wisconsin, took this photo a few days ago...she's such a good photographer. I LOVE the Yellow porch railing, contrasting with the recent blizzard results. I've asked permission to use this as my Christmas card this year, and she said yes...thanks, darlin'.

Again, in Wisconsin, my theory was "more is more", and here in Texas, I just have wrapped a few of our Pecan trees in lights, and have a couple of metal, lit topiaries...maybe, I'll try photographing them at night.
So, now is the time for me to clean carpets, and floors, and finish making everything as close to perfect as possible.....stay warm, and remember, it's better to have the garage door open when backing out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jessica Day Off....

When I was in JoAnn's Fabrics awhile back, buying fabric for my window treatments, I met two, lovely ladies, and we struck up a conversation. Yesterday, I got an invitation to join them for lunch, and since I know so few people in Texas, decided to take them up on it...What fun!
When I first was emailing Sue, my new found friend, she said she was behind in putting in her Christmas decorations, as she had 148 trees to put up...I thought, okay - typo. No, not typo; when I walked into her home, I couldn't believe my eyes. Sue has every single room, nook and cranny decorated for the holidays - even the ceiling in the foyer. She has been on the national news programs, and is trying to get into HGTV. Since I didn't have a clue, I didn't take my camera. I just got off the phone with her, and she's fine with me coming back and taking photos. Next week...can't wait. My friend, Kathy, owns the "Purple Puddle", in Chapel Hill, NC...http://wwwpurplepuddle.com, should get you there. It's a floral and gift shop, and is always enchanting. Years ago, she flew me from the frozen tundra of Wisconsin (we had lived in Chapel Hill previously, where I did her displays and windows..and some floral design), to do her Christmas windows. She had this enormous bunny, along with Bunnies By the Bay (remember them).

Since I took the day off yesterday, and then before that, shared a bit of my past and my design philosophy, I thought I'd share some of the photos of her windows.

This bunny is six-feet tall, and has served as the "anchor" in many of the windows I did for Kathy.Ya'll may recall that I've been cutting out and saving all kinds of things pretaining to design from the huge quantities of magazines I've had over the years. I keep them catagorized in large binders, and what the heck, if I can't share a few with you, what's the point? I don't want to just have these instructional or inspirational photos all the time, but they are good for days like this, when I am recharging my camera, and working on some projects of my own to share with you.

Yes, this is from Martha Stewart's magazine; in fact, I have an entire binder of her "good things"..thanks, Martha. There are instructions below this photo as to how to do these wonderful orange pomender pyramids. Just click on the photo to read the directions...also, throwing in an origami star. For some reason, when I edited this, I cannot get it to come up by double clicking...all the others do...wonder why? Anyone out there know? Again, Martha...I love this look, although it does feel a bit cold...perhaps a fire in the fireplace. I would be concerned about setting the "flocking" afire..still, beautiful.We no longer have a staircase, but if we did, I'd love to do this......

I've spent the entire morning dealing with the "heater guy", and we finally are off "emergency heat", thank goodness. Now, I am going to go string lights in my ficus in the dining room, make a blanket cover, and maybe a few velvet fruit. We shall see.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You Can Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow's Ear

This is my Mama...she was raised during the Great Depression....She lived in grinding poverty...just look at the natural grace and class she had.... so read on.
Well, I don't mean that literally. What I mean is, no matter what your station in life economically, there are ways to make things pretty. These are "the girls", who came running everytime we were working in our 4,000 sq. ft. garden in Wisconsin. The first few seasons, we grew too many vegetables to put up, and much of it went to the local food bank...the no longer fit to eat, went to the "girls". I've always wanted to use this in a greeting card, with the caption, "Your name came up at lunch today"....don't steal it...mine, all mine. I love the photo. We are by no means wealthy; in fact, the recession and my move from Wisconsin has pretty much shut down my business, but I do have a resourceful husband, who has been consulting for nearly two years, so I thank God everyday that I still have my lovely home, and way too much to eat.
What does this have to do with design, you ask? You don't have to live in a "McMansion", or have a house in "The Hamptons", to live with beauty and grace. When I was first married - not to this husband, by the way. My father-in-law said to me; 'you have a way of making simple things beautiful"..which started my foray into interior design.

I lived for awhile in my Grandparent's "shack" in Oklahoma - Cherokee...dirt floors, tin roof (they are fashionable now, but I bet they don't say "RC Cola" on them. This is me, in my grandmother's arms...my sister (the whitest Cherokee kid on the block), and my cousin, who's mother was full-blood - I am a bit over a quarter, but proud of my heritage. As you can see, that porch doesn't know whether to stand up, or fall down. Even though the floors were dirt, my grandmother would sprinkle them with water, and sweep and tamp them down until they were like concrete (funny, my house has stained concrete floors, all the rage, don't you know). She made rag rugs out of scraps of fabric, and quilts, and even clothes and curtains for us out of flour sacks (they were printed with flowers back then). This wasn't a hundred years ago...I am 61, but don't tell anyone.

This was my grandfather, who was a mule skinner...I once had a city friend ask, "what did they do with the skins?" - a mule skinner drove a team of mules. He was rough, tough, and hard to diaper, and drank homemade "shine", and lived to be 96. He used to take me to the woods, and set me on a stump, while he smoked out bees from the hive in a tree, and always gave me a chunk of beewax, dripping with honey. He also would shoot mistletoe down from Blackjack trees, and we would sell it in town.

My grandmother (center) loved to fish...she didn't like to eat it, but we did eat a great deal of catfish...She would take Rex Lard buckets (quite a pretty red, actually), and plant "moss rose" in them, and hang them on the porch (not too many, as it would pull it down on top of us).

This was my grandmother on my father's side...I took the photo when she was in her late seventies...all those years of chopping cotten in the fields took their toll. Remember ladies, sunscreen...She sat by my grandfather's bed for ten years (he smoked, and was on oxygen all the time), and pieced together quilts...not beautiful, but pretty...and functional. Remember...form follows function

I came across this photo this morning, and the one of the pigs, and that's what got me started on this - We lived in poverty, but we had beauty around us...we lived in beautiful country, with hills, and lakes, and trees to climb, and berries to pick, and wild flowers...It's much easier being poor in the country. At least now, inner city kids are getting garden programs and hopefully, some introduction to art by taking them to museums.

So, if there's not enough money to paint the entire house, or even a room, go to Home Depot to the "whoops pile" of paint, and you can get a gallon for $5.00. Go to the supermarket in July, and you can find glads for $2.00 a bunch. Or just stop for a moment, and gaze at a wildflower.

I have done multi-million dollar homes, and I have done modest homes...I have also learned that just because a person is wealthy, doesn't mean they have good taste.

There is the dictum, "If it isn't beautiful or useful, get rid of it"....Which is what I am doing this afternoon...cleaning out my closet.

I hope this hasn't been too self indulgent. But for those of you, who feel you are not able to have a lovely home...a clean home, a simple home, and alot of love for it is just fine.

Monday, December 7, 2009

They Said it Couldn't Be Done...

First, I want to thank my dear Kelly from http://muchtodowithnothing.blogspot.com/ for featuring me on her blog...(see yesterday's blog below). She's amazing..she knows how to do everything, especially, create wonderful slipcovers, and she can miter corners on wood moulding, and so much more! As they say in Texas, "I appreciate ya"..(really).

I wish I could give credit where credit is due as to this photo of peonies, but I did pull it off a blog, but it is so beautiful, and if whomever is out there would please let me know if it was you...I apologize for taking it, but miss peonies so...thankyou.

What they said couldn't be done (well, I said it couldn't be done) is to ruin a floorcloth. I did. For all of ya'll, who missed that one, go back in the archives and there is a tutorial about how to make them.
Floorcloths are hand-painted canvas, that have been primed front-and-back with latex paint, and after painting, sealed with a sealant (typically polyurathane.)

They can be placed on any surface, ie, stained concrete, tile, wood, etc., but not on carpet. They are durable, wipeable, and great for in front of kitchen sinks, (they can just be wiped with a damp cloth, instead of having to launder rugs constantly) in powder rooms, under kitchen/dining room tables, and on porches (if they are protected from the elements). I do not recommend they be used in bathrooms in front of showers or bathtubs, as more absorbant floor coverings in front of the shower or tub are safer. I do, however, have one in front of my vanity.

This is my kitchen island. I love my kitchen; it's small, but very practical. I love the countertops (granite), the floors (stained concrete), but I hate, hate, hate, my glass-top cooktop (which I have already broken). It's an all electric house. We are outside the city limits, and the option was propane....besides, by the time I found the house, it was nearly finished...too late.

But, I digress. I made this floorcloth two-and-a-half years ago, and I love it. It's held up beautifully...until.....(let me preface this by saying it's my own, stupid fault..also, the only other way to ruin a floorcloth besides what I did, is to fold it or put it on carpet and walk on it)...what did I do???? I didn't realize there was kitty litter on the floor under the floorcloth...I do sweep and wash my floors, really. I think what happened was I put what I thought was an empty kitty litter bag in the trash under my sink(I have to use small ones, because I cannot heft the biggies)...some residual litter must have fallen out, and marched under the floorcloth..no idea...anyway, not knowing it was there, I walked on the floorcloth, and now, there are raised bumps from the litter, that will not come out. I am obsessive-compulsive, and an interior designer (they go hand-in-hand)..also, I make these to sell, so how can I have a damaged floorcloth? So, now I have to make a new one. I am going to replicate it, as I love this one...I am part Cherokee, so I honor my heritage when I can.

This one is in front of my stove...it has fared much better..the handprints are mine and my husband's. The deer is a replica from a cave painting here in Texas, and the other symbols represent good luck, health, etc.

Poor floorcloth...I had one in Wisconsin that still looked good after nine years. They are practically.......bullet-proof. Live and learn.

I have decided to make a wall hanging out of this one. I cannot bear to part with it...It took me forever to paint all that fringe. It is an exact replica of a ceremonial wedding dress (not Cherokee), but I love it. I have some leather strips, and I will attach it with them to a lovely walking stick my late brother-in-law made (he would like that), and hang it in my foyer.

On a totally different note, I made this painting and floorcloth, (taken from a Christmas card), and ended up donating it to a very good charitable cause...Now, I have to make another one for this Christmas...maybe...
So, children, remember to sweep well under your floorcloths...let that be a lesson to us all!