Sunday, May 31, 2009

A winner!

The Random Number Generator picked Ashley as the winner of the Cottage Charm Giveaway!

So congrats, Ashley, and I'll get your package mailed out this week. And thanks to everyone who entered--there were a ton of you and I hope some of you will come back and visit from time to time. Hope everyone found some new blogs to read, too--I know I did.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Austen rant (heartfelt but oh so civil.)

Okay. When they released that Pride and Prejudice movie with Keira Knightley a few years ago, I wasn't even tempted to watch it, because for me there IS no other "P&P" besides the
BBC P&P with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. None other. (Don't even mention that awful Greer Garson/Laurence Olivier version from the 1940s!)

But I'm up late and Todd's asleep, and I came across that other version on Oxygen, about half over. I'm more happy than ever that I didn't fork over $8.00, or whatever movies cost in 2005, to see this thing in a theater.

I am no Keira Knightley fan, for one thing. And in this movie she looks like a starving waif, with these giant sack dresses hanging off that bony frame, and straggly hair hanging in her face and that giant jaw. What is with her jaw? It's like she's got forty extra teeth in there.

And I don't know who this mutton-faced loser is they've got playing Mr. Darcy, but he's not fit to carry Colin Firth's form-fitting breeches. How could either of these people find the other attractive?

And Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennett might have seemed like a good idea, because he does have a humorous streak, but they totally suppressed it here. He's dreadful!

And Lydia and Wickham have zero personality. None at all. They were so wonderfully awful in the BBC version.

And all the delicious tension, the wonderful conversations, the extended scenes where you could really watch the story play out and the characters play off each other--it's all gone. All the humor and joyfulness--gone. Just long silent scenes of Keira looking waifish and sad, her immense jaw trembling with suppressed emotion. Maybe the first half is funnier?

I guess people probably did look as scruffy back then as they do in this movie, with no regular baths and no washing machines, but you can almost smell the B.O. just looking at the screen.

And the worst of all--the scene at the end where Lady Catherine shows up does battle with Lizzie--it's THE best scene of the book and of the BBC version. Here, even with Judi Dench, it's nowhere near as fascinating and cathartic. I just love that scene where Lizzie tells her off. "Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?" (My favorite line of any book ever!)

Why do people always think they can improve on perfection? It almost never works.

Just had to get that off my chest. I feel better now. Maybe I'll pop in my P&P DVDs for a minute to wash away the bad taste!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Feeling much better today.

Today was a good day--I feel almost 100% better, I took my walk today without having to wheeze for breath, went grocery shopping, made some bookmarks, cooked dinner--life is starting to feel normal again. Boy, do I hate being sick! Boy, am I grateful for antibiotics and a healthy immune system!

Tomorrow is garden work day, if it stops raining. The weeds...the weeds...they are taking over and starting to scare me a little! I'll try and take some pictures, maybe that will make the weeding more interesting. But I doubt it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Still coughing..

I took myself off to the walk-in clinic this morning because I couldn't wait till Tuesday or Wednesday to see my doctor, and it looks like I've got bronchitis. So I'm on antibiotics now and hopefully can stop coughing and start feeling better quickly! I hope it will be quick, anyway...I'm starting to forget how it feels to feel well!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy *cough, cough* anniversary!

Seventeen years ago today, I was nauseated, nervous, a little sick. I was getting ready to walk down the aisle and marry my sweetie. (Definitely the best decision I ever made!)

Today, I'm nauseated, coughing, and more than a little sick. This fricking-fracking cold will not go away, in fact it's worse than ever.

So instead of having a nice weekend trip away like we planned, I am camping on the couch and Todd is out enjoying the pretty weather in his kayak. Harumph. I am sooooo grumpy.

I can't remember if we had an "in sickness, in health" line in our wedding vows--I hope we did, or else Todd might take advantage of the loophole and find himself a non-mucusy woman to hang with this weekend!

Fortunately, I found a nice little stash of old movies I've picked up on DVD in the past couple of months at the flea market and at garage sales. I stuck them all on the shelf and forgot about them, and found them now, just waiting for a day like today when I've got nothing else to do and can use some distraction from not feeling well.

Right now I've got An Affair to Remember playing. One of Cary Grant's more ridiculous movies. I love Deborah Kerr, though. And Cary Grant plays a character whose last name is Ferrante, which just happens to be the last name of that dude I got married to seventeen years ago. A fun coincidence!

Next in the line-up is The Third Man, The Narrow Margin, The Big Clock, and The Phantom of the Opera with Claude Rains, which is pretty scratched, but I hope it will play. I love that version, they used to run it on Saturday afternoons on the local independent station when I was a kid.

Off to find some chicken soup. If you can spare a good thought, I could use it. I don't get sick very often, but when I do, it's always a lu-lu.

Monday, May 18, 2009


We had a great weekend with my brother's family, and especially getting to hang with Natalie and Marissa all day Saturday.

Books were read...

...water was spilled...

...and mopped up and spilled again...

...herbs were picked...

...and cheesy grins captured.

Everybody curled up and watched Robin Hood (the animated Disney version) on Sunday morning while it poured rain outside--very cozy.

I was really thrilled, on Saturday, to get to introduce the girls to my favorite childhood movie, The Sound of Music. Marissa wandered in and out for some of it, getting Todd to play hide-and-seek with her or read her a couple of books, but Natalie stuck it out till the end. It was hard to explain nuns and Nazis to a six-year-old (nuns = "women who want to love and worship God all the time so they live in a special place and wear special clothes"; Nazis = "bad guys who did some really bad things") and I fast-forwarded through a couple of the boring talky scenes with the Captain and the Baroness, but she loved it. I was glad. What a great memory, getting to watch it with her.

Whenever the girls come to visit, the house always seems a little sad and quiet after they leave.

Love those two girlies.

I still had my cold all weekend, which is why we had a low-key Saturday watching a long movie and playing with water, and today I'm just really tired. Took a nap yesterday afternoon and slept hard all night long, and I'm still dragging a little today. Definitely on the mend, just...tired.

Oh--I finally have my car back! We picked up Todd's car Thursday night. Today I went to the park and walked and got groceries, and it felt like such a luxury after three weeks of car-lessness. I'm glad life is back to normal and I can go wherever I want whenever I want!

Hope everybody else's week is off to a good start, too.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What we're doing right now.

A little water, a few towels, and some plastic ponies and tea set dishes...peace and quiet and messiness.

A lot of messiness, actually, but who cares?

Hm. I think I care. I've mopped up about five spills between these two paragraphs.

Out to the porch with these guys. And maybe then I can get this two-minutes-turned-into-twenty-minutes blog post written.

We're watching our nieces today while their mom and dad ride in a charity bike-a-thon. These two are the cutest, funniest, smartest girls ever. Although their messes seem to grow exponentially.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Animal Picture Book.

This is one of the other items I found on Monday while shopping in Westerville.

There's no publication date, but I think the book is at least 100 years old, based on the condition and style, and also on the clothes the kids are wearing in this picture:

There are a few little pictures and stories like this in the book, but the real treasure is all the full-page color plates.

I think this one is my favorite:

That's about half the pictures--there are also plates of a turkey, squirrels, a calf, a foal, a donkey, a "sly cat" lurking through a barn, a goat, and then pictures of a boy herding sheep and a hunting dog coming up out of a river. Aren't they gorgeous? The book has completely fallen apart, so I will have no guilt over taking some of the pictures out and framing them. They would look so sweet in an old-fashioned nursery or child's bedroom, but since we don't have any of those in this house, I'm thinking maybe in the foyer or upstairs hallway.

I love framing old postcards and pages from books. When you think about how much even the cheapest generic prints from T.J. Maxx can cost, it really can be very cost-effective to find your own art and frame it. Plus, it's completely unique!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cottage Charm Giveaway.

It's May, and that means that Kim at Twice Remembered is hosting her third annual Cottage Charm Giveaway. This is my third time to participate, too, and I'm excited! I especially like doing this giveaway because it coincides with my "blogiversary" (four years!) and also because I always find new and wonderful blogs to read when I visit all the participants.

May has been a weird month for me, with no car on a regular basis, so I decided to go "shopping" in my house and then supplement that with a walk to the thrift store. And I found some terrific stuff. This time I'm doing a "baking" theme, and here's what you'll win if I draw your name from the comments list:

-a vintage cookie cutter
-a bowl scraper from King Arthur Flour
-a stack of recipe cards with some of my favorite cookie and muffin recipes
-a sweet little vintage plate to serve your baked goodies on
-a hand-embroidered table runner to place the plate on
-a red toile tin to package some baked goodies in
-a set of four mise-en-place bowls to hold your ingredients while you bake
-a nifty push-up measuring cup, especially nice for measuring things like peanut butter, mayonnaise, honey, etc.
-some tea bags so you can sip while you snack
-an apple-pie scented Yankee candle in a pretty votive holder
-a bar of cinnamon-oatmeal soap from Ellie's Handmade Soap
-aaaaand, a lovely little cookbook with recipes and gift ideas for each of the four seasons.

Whew! If I find any more treasures between now and the end of the month, I'll add them, but this seems like plenty to start with.

The rules are simple: just leave a comment on this post between now and midnight on Saturday, May 30th. Please include your e-mail address if you don't have a blog or some way for me to contact you. I'll announce the winner on the 31st.

And definitely check out all the other giveaways listed here! You could win something really wonderful, and maybe find some new friends and inspiration, too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My day.

Still no Hyundai. I was going to take Todd to work this morning so I could go grocery shopping, but I was too tired to organize my coupons last night, and today I am coming down with the cold that Todd has been fighting for almost a week. Such a generous husband, giving me his cold. Such a sweetie!

So, stuck at home again, I hauled out some of the stuff I bought at Michael's last weekend. They were clearancing out a bunch of the home decor stuff they've had out since January, and I finally made my move and snapped some of it up.

I keep a low bench right outside the front door with various decorative items on it, and when I found a bunch of birdhouses and pitchers at Michael's, I decided to get a bunch of it and re-do my arrangement on the bench.

The bench was made for me by Todd several years ago, and I painted it a sort of maize yellow, but that doesn't go with the stuff I bought last week, so I also got a couple cans of spray paint and hauled it out in the yard and painted it today. Of course, I forgot to take a "before" picture, but here's the "after":

I'll have to see if I can find a "before" picture on the other computer later. I need to fill in a couple of gaps with more tchotchkes, but you get the basic idea. I'm hoping that little ceramic angel survives...our porch is like a long, narrow wind-tunnel and I have had more than one treasure blown off the bench and broken.

[Edited to add: I found an old shot of the front door with the bench beside it...this was right before Christmas 07. I got rid of the red chair on the other side today--I've had it for five or six years and it's looking very ratty, so it went to the curb:]

Then I took the same can of spray paint and overhauled this little table that sits between the wicker chairs on the other side of the porch:

Again, I didn't take a "before" picture--what's wrong with me?! My problem is that once I get all revved up to do a project, I have to plunge right into it and I don't want to take the time to track down my camera. This is a huge improvement on this little thrift store table, though--the legs were pale yellow, and the top was off-white with a big apple decal in the center, and a painted checkerboard pattern around the edge. Sort of folk art style. I think plain khaki looks better, esp. with the dark brown chairs. Now I need to find some small, cute plant to set on it...again, something that hopefully won't get blown away when a big storm comes through.

I am a spray paint novice, but I'm always reading other people's blogs and seeing all the wonderful transformations they create with it, and I am totally convinced now. It took about fifteen minutes to spray the bench and the table, and by the time I got deadheading all my hanging petunia plants, they were dry and ready to put back up on the porch. Very impressive.

These birdhouses have been sitting on my front door bench with a couple of baskets and a grapevine wreath, but they didn't go with the scheme any more, so I just set them on the porch steps with the grapevine wreath propped behind them and another little Michael's angel next to them:

Speaking of items that got blown over and broken, this is one of them, a very cute glazed pot I picked up at a garden store in Portsmouth. I couldn't bring myself to throw away the bits, so they've been sitting pretty much where they fell. A couple weeks ago I stuck them in the garden and pulled up a spare sedum to plant in front of them.

Here's the McCoy vase I picked up in Westerville on Monday:

I have a similar vase that I bought years ago when we were living in Ohio:

Here's the bowl I got on Monday, I still haven't found a spot for it to sit yet so it's hanging out on the kitchen counter. Someday when Todd makes shelves for our living room, I'm going to display all my pottery together.

What a gorgeous day today is, sunny and cool. I need to do some cleaning and tidying before my brother's family comes for the weekend, and plan some meals and get some groceries. I hope this cold dries up and goes away fast!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Our weekend trip.

We got home from Columbus at about 11 last was a great weekend! Angelo was very, very excited to make his First Communion. He was running around the yard the night before saying, "Tomorrow I get to take the blood and body of Christ!" which is not something you'd typically hear from an eight-year-old boy! And when he came back up the aisle after the communion, he had a look of pure joy on his face. I'm so happy that it was important to him to take that step in his life.

Our present to him was a sterling silver tie tack to go with his snazzy new suit and tie.

Such a cutie pie!

Here's Angelo with his dad Craig and his mom Julie:

I only got a couple of pictures at's my father-in-law John with Gianna:

Look at this gorgeous boy!

Here are the kids with their mom Julie and her boyfriend Andrew. This was the first big family event since Julie and her husband Craig split up a couple of years ago, and since Andrew came into their lives, so everyone was feeling a little nervous about how it would go, but everything went really smoothly. The kids come first, for all of us, and I think that has helped. It was nice to get to spend a few days with Andrew and get to know him better.

"Can we stop smiling now?"

Todd's dad, Todd, the kiddies, me, and Todd's sisters Julie and Lisa.

We took a nice picture of Todd and his sisters later on:

So that was Saturday--we had Mass/First Communion in the morning, and then a big lunch with Angelo's dad's family. They had three cousins all celebrating their First Communion together, so it was a really special day for their family.

Sunday we took A & G out to pick up some crafts to work on together. Angelo and Todd made a wooden plane and helicopter:

(Angelo was making goofy faces, in case you can't tell)...and Gianna and I made some little bobblehead cats that we blinged up with gems and glitter:

We spent the rest of the time just hanging out, playing cornhole, kicking the soccer ball, playing on the swingset, etc. The weather was great, a little cool, but mostly sunny, so we could be outside a lot.

Look at this gorgeous picture I got of Miss Gianna:

Monday morning, everyone went off to work or school, or to catch their plane, but Todd and I didn't have to fly out till late afternoon, so we went to the used bookstore, a couple of antique shops, and had lunch at my favorite restaurant so I could have their Fruity Chicken, which is just a scoop of the world's best chicken salad served with melon, strawberries and grapes piled all around it. It used to come with a muffin, but now you have to order your muffin separately, which I did.

We used to live in Westerville, so it was fun to drive around and see how things have changed and visit a couple of the places we liked to go when we lived there. We also got hamburgers on Sunday at the best burger joint ever.

At the antique stores, I found a McCoy vase and a McCoy bowl for excellent prices, so I had them wrapped up really well in bubble wrap, and then we hit a Goodwill near the airport and found a duffle bag/knapsack so that I could put the pottery in there along with my purse and carry it on the plane. I also had to mail a couple of books and a couple other antique store finds, plus some scrapbook paper, home to myself, so I'm hoping that package will show up here tomorrow.

Since we only had a fifty-pound limit on our suitcase, we had to do some shuffling of items, and it was a good thing I mailed that extra stuff home, because we were right over the limit when we checked in. We grabbed a couple things out of the side pocket to bring the weight down to 49.9 lbs. and then we had to figure out where to cram those things into our carry-ons, too! It's a good thing we restrained ourselves on the shopping, because there was just no more room anywhere.

I unwrapped my bowl and vase this morning and they survived the trip just fine. Now I'm working my way through laundry and hoping with all my heart that we can pick up our other car tonight so I can get my regular life back!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Taking off.

STILL no car! That Hyundai had better run like a top after two weeks in the shop! I crammed my errand-running into two days this week, and now today I'm relaxing at home and doing the laundry so I can get my suitcase packed.

We are going to Columbus, OH for a few days to attend our nephew Angelo's First Communion. I'm so excited to see him and our niece Gianna and both of my sisters-in-law, and hopefully we'll have time to visit a couple of our favorite haunts from the days when we used to live there, which seem so long ago now (six years.)

Todd and I are sharing the big suitcase so we only have to check one bag--do you think we can get four days' worth of clothes and shoes for two people into one bag? I'm dubious. Not because of him, but because of me. Just the shoes alone--sneakers, casual, dress, and maybe sandals?--will fill half the bag. I try so hard to pack light, but I always feel like I have to cover every contingency...dress-up clothes, of course, but then you need long-sleeves, short-sleeves, a jacket, jeans, comfy pants, maybe something semi-dressy in case you go out...before you know it you have a stack of outfits and no room in the bag.

I am far from being a clotheshorse, and maybe that's the problem. I'm indecisive and insecure about my clothes, and the dress code in Columbus is way more upscale than here in this grungy city. I actually kind of like living here because at any given moment on the average street corner or shopping center, I'm one of the best-dressed people in sight, with no more effort than throwing on nice-ish jeans and a long-sleeve tee. That absolutely never happened in Columbus! I always felt like a hobo in Columbus. Part of the reason I feel I could never visit New York is that my crappy clothes would immediately mark me as a tourist and between the outraged fashionistas and the muggers, I'd never get out alive.

I guess there's something to be said for living in a place with lowered expectations. It's a lot less pressure, that's for sure.

Off to polish my shoes and pack some jewelry and make-up. It's good to raise my standards every so often!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Roses, encyclopedias, a globe, and a unicorn.

I've been feeling a desire to do some kind of needlework--it's been a couple of years since I've stitched anything--so last night I dug through my sewing box and found this:

I started this unicorn needlepoint when we were living in Idaho--say, about 1994? It was a big splurge: I bought a brand-new (then) hardcover of Flowers, Birds and Unicorns: Medieval Needlepoint by Candace Bahouth for the pattern, and a big canvas, and a huge pile of wool yarn. A large expenditure fifteen years ago, when we were still practically newlyweds.

Todd was very much into the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA) then, a medieval re-enactment group which had a very active branch in Idaho Falls, so we had a lot of medieval books and such, and I was very much into cross-stitch then, so when I found this book and was able to find all the supplies at the very nice needlecraft store downtown, it seemed like the perfect project. I think it was the third (and last) needlepoint project I ever attempted. Here it is in the book, completed as a pillow:

I got it about 70% done, and then abandoned it for fifteen years, crumpled in the bottom of my sewing box. Every now and then I would paw through and think "I should finish that," but never seriously. Somehow something just clicked last night and I pulled it out and started stitching and am having a grand old time with it. I like needlepoint a lot--it doesn't seem to age as badly as counted cross-stitch has. And I'm not sure why. Cross-stitch's heyday seemed to coincide with that cutesy-country period, and so there's a lot of just lousy cross-stitch out there in the yard sales and thrift stores. Needlepoint seems to have a more timeless look--except of course for plastic canvas. *shudder*

(I do have to say that I have made a lot of really terrific cross-stitch projects that still (in my opinion) look good, and the wedding sampler pattern that my mother-in-law stitched for us still looks quite up-to-date 17 years later. But we won't talk about some of the odds and ends at the bottom of my sewing box...)

One danger of abandoning a project for that long a time is that you won't find it appealing or to your taste after so long, but I do still find the unicorn and the design really beautiful, even if we're not quite as heavily into all things medieval as we were years ago. And the colors will still work in several different rooms in our home.

Sometimes when I look at a piece of stitching I've done, I can remember so clearly which apartment we lived in, and which of our old couches I sat on, and can pinpoint the year from there, but not with this. I have no clear memory of working on it. But it does stir up a lot of memories of the three-and-a-half years we lived in Idaho. I miss the big sky and the foothills of the Tetons you could see from town. Maybe someday I'll dig out some pictures from that era and post them here--that would be fun! are a few other things from my life right now...the first two roses from my rosebush out front:

Once or twice a day when I'm in the kitchen, I just pick them up and take a few deep sniffs. Mmmm.

I bought this little Homer Laughlin bowl for $3.00 at an estate sale a few weeks ago:

I LOVE the little inset details--love, love, love.

I bought seventeen--yes, seventeen--of these small (maybe 5x6") encyclopedias at the thrift store last week. They were published in the early 1930's, and they are in perfect condition. It was one of those things where you're loading them into your cart and thinking, "What is wrong with you and what on earth are you going to do with these?" but I couldn't help myself. They were dirt cheap and just so cool. I love the design on the spines.

They don't have many illustrations, but the ones that are included are quite nice:

It's not a complete set, but that's okay. I think I have a fear that in another 20 years books will be a total anachronism, and I feel this need to grab all the oldies I can find and take good care of them. These books are already an anachronism--do encyclopedias even exist any more?

And speaking of anachronisms, here's the globe I found at another estate sale five or six weeks ago:

I was so excited to find it, because I didn't have a black one yet, and the price was very fair. The colors are so nice, and I believe it's about 55-60 years old, because Israel is a country, but Korea hasn't been divided yet. I love dating globes, it satisfies the utter dork in me.

And with this purchase, I am officially out of room for globes, except maybe a few more of those little globe banks, which are getting rare as hen's teeth, but way more expensive. Time to buy a bigger house, right?

We are still without our second car, which is getting the automobile equivalent of triple bypass surgery right now--a gamble on an eleven-year-old car, but we agreed that neither of us had the energy for a new car search right now. Nor do we have any burning desire to make car payments again. It seems like a law of our lives: within six months of when we get one car paid off, the other breaks down or gets in an accident and has to be replaced. But we're going for the surgical option this time, with fingers crossed that we can get another two or three years out of this car if we do the work on it now. But I am ready to have my car back and start running useless errands again!