Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Do Yourself A Favor and Click the Button

   I don't usually forward you from my little corner of the blog world to another, but I am making an exception this time. I hope you will trust me on this, because a blessing awaits you. You will also need to allow yourself some time. Probably about 10 minutes if you read quickly, but I would recommend adding a bit more so that you can soak it all in. So find a quiet corner and get yourself ready.
   This is a God story. A big God story. And I want you to share in the wonder of it all. So double-click on the link below, sit back and give my friend Lindsey your ear.

                  And They Say God Doesn't do Miracles, This Might Just Change Your Mind 

This is the banner for Lindsay's blog:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

     I am thoroughly enjoying my new financial venture. After years of weighing the pros and cons, I have finally opened a booth in an antique mall. To stock my space, I have cleaned out closets and gotten rid of an odd assortment of things that have gathered dust and taken up space far too long in my own home. Some are even thirty-seven year old wedding presents that have never been used. Despite my inclination to hold onto things that were gifts once given with the best of intentions, I finally decided that if I haven't used the thing a single time in thirty-seven years, odds are that I won't be using it anytime soon. And since no one gave me a cane or a walker, I am safe in putting these items up for sale.
    I have also begun to venture outside my own four walls and search further afield for items to sell. Some days I feel like a pirate with a treasure map that is nothing but a deadend. And other days I find the booty almost immediately. This entire process has definitely been a learning curve. I have been hot, sweaty and bothered plenty of times, but I think I am still having fun. The Husband is convinced that I have gone off my rocker. He might be right.
   Oddly enough I feel a little like a storm chaser. Except that instead of storms,  I am chasing the elusive bargain. And not just any ole bargain, but a bargain that will sell! I am finding it's a little like gambling. Art Linkletter said that "People say the darndest things..." I would add that "They buy the darndest things, too..." Seriously, there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to what people will buy.
   I recently purchased about 15 vintage handkerchiefs from the 1940's to put in my booth. I got very excited about them, but when I showed them to the sweet ladies at the front desk, they didn't share my excitement. They simply shrugged their shoulders and told me what they thought I should ask for them. I guess vintage handkerchiefs are pretty run of the mill in the antique business. But they are not run of the mill to me. Searching for validation, I spent some time on my favorite website, Pinterest, and of course, found all sorts of fun things that you could do with vintage handkerchiefs. I got so inspired that I am even having to argue with myself to leave them in the booth. So I am doing the next best thing, I am passing along some of that inspiration to you.
   First up is a lovely pillow made from a vintage handkerchief. I have one that looks almost exactly like this for sale in my booth!

Next up is this divine quilt. I am fascinated by it. I don't think I have quite enough handkerchiefs available to complete it, so you will have to find another source in addition to mine, if you are going to make this!

Source: None via Kathy on Pinterest

And this idea would allow you to use your little treasures again and again!
photo from The Mother Huddle blog
I also have some lovely pieces of milk glass in my booth. If you are planning a party, take a look at what you could do with some humble milk glass.
picture from Eddie Ross
inspiration board from Every Last Detail blog
    The next time you are in Franklin, come and see me at the Harpeth Antique Mall. I am Booth B-1 (Feather Your Nest!) If I am not there, I am probably at the Goodwill or shopping in one of my secret haunts that I cannot divulge because you just might get there first!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The New Neighbors

   I'm no rootin' tootin' cowgirl (don't own a gun), but I sure can scream like a banshee.I guess it's a good thing. If you are in the neighborhood and hear blood curdling screams emanating from our home, there's a good reason. And Scout's honor, it has absolutely nothing to do with The Husband. Let me explain. Heretofore, we have led a relatively pleasant life in suburbia -- our home sits on slightly over an acre of land in an older subdivision that was once part of a larger farm. I fell in love with this house twenty-five years ago primarily because of the mature trees that beautifully frame the front of the house. The broad, flat, expansive backyard was a paradise just waiting for our children. It was perfectly designed for just about any type of game you could think of, from football to baseball to softball to relay races to golf, and most days I just sent the kids outside to play and never thought twice about it. Those were the days. Sigh.
  Time has marched on. Our children are now bona fide adults, and even the neighbors' kids are mostly grown and going their own way. So it's none too exciting around here. In fact it is so quiet that a few new neighbors have taken up residence nearby. They are large dog-like creatures that howl and yip and yell at night to their hearts' content. Coyotes. Yep. But no worries. I can be at peace with nature, and I can handle a coyote or two. I have seen them in the neighborhood before. Once there was one walking down the middle of the street about dusk. But five coyotes? And all at once? That's a pack and that's another matter altogether. It's just a few too many coyotes. It's scary. Besides, we have a small fenced-in enclosure in the back yard where our Cavalier spaniel runs around to his heart's content. But after this weekend, not so much. Five coyotes came out in broad daylight and sauntered around in our backyard just like they owned it. They stared at my son and me as we sat on the porch. I waved my arms. They stared back. I stood up and waved some more. They ignored me and went about their own business. Even when the son and I stood up and started making noise. It was eerie. I was scared. The coyotes obviously were not fazed one little bit. I went to bed wondering if coyotes can jump a three foot fence.
   The next day the husband was riding on his John Deere riding lawn mower that he likes to pretend is a tractor when the pack of coyotes decided to pay him a visit. They moved into the yard about 10 yards from where he was methodically going back and forth, back and forth. (That's what you do when you cut a big lawn.)  The Husband saw the coyotes and hollered. They moved back out of sight into the tree line. He thought he had set them straight. Then they came back. All five of them. At that point The Husband decided it was time to get out of Dodge. He moved away from their territory. I guess he decided to forego mowing the back of the lot until next week or the week after that.  He obviously made about as serious an impression on the coyotes as the son and I had. And to think, The Husband had the benefit of that shiny green and black tractor. I guess the coyotes have never heard of John Deere.
   I called the police. I know. I know. But I did call the non-emergency number. Later that day they sent a patrol officer out to talk to The Husband and me. Then just like overgrown boys, the officer and my husband decided to go on a coyote-hunting expedition. The officer went first with The Husband following behind. But before the officer went into the tree line, he put on his gloves and took out his gun. I guess they were both worried about a possible encounter with five full-grown coyotes. The coyotes must have been taking a nap somewhere else because they were no where to be found.
    The policeman left me the number of the Wildlife Commission. I called and talked to a really nice guy named Tony. Tony is the one who recommended that I scream like a banshee. He also told me to wave my arms, grab a pot and pan and a metal spoon and bang the *&^% out of it at the same time that I was advancing and screaming. I have the screaming part down. I can also beat those pots and pans like nobody's business, but I don't know about the advancing part. I might be The Mom and have more than a few years under my belt, but I am also a CHICKEN. And the last time I checked, coyotes like to eat CHICKENS. So I will scream, I will wave, I will beat the pot with the spoon, but I will stay behind the fence, and I will, under no circumstances, advance into the coyotes' territory. In fact, I just gave the coyotes the deed to the upper back yard. They can have it. Did I mention that they can also jump a three foot fence? I am still thinking about that one. I somehow don't think the neighborhood association will go for barb-wire rolls on top of my fence...
Coyote Pack (Part 1 of 5)
Menacing look from the coyote on the left
  photo courtesy of

Saturday, August 27, 2011

   It's The Husband's birthday. It always comes at the same time every year (smile) and usually falls during the last blistering gasp of summer, but wonder of wonders, yesterday we woke up to cooler temperatures. I am thankful. At least we won't be sweating to death on the porch tonight as we gather for dinner to celebrate and bless this good man.
  While there are many things I like and love about the man I married thirty-seven years ago, these are my top ten tonight.
1. His loyalty and integrity are paramount.
2. He is totally committed to me and to our family.
3. His faith in the Lord has grown by leaps and bounds during the course of our lives together.
4. If he has your back, he has your back.
5. He is willing and open to change.
6. He stands by, up, and for what he believes.
7. He works hard and has learned to play hard, too!
8. He has an adventurous spirit.
9. Stability and strength are hallmarks of his character.
10. He is always seeking the opportunity to encourage, minister to, and bless others.

I am glad that we still have fun together!
Happy Birthday! I love you!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Finding the Fabulous on Etsy

 If you are a girl who likes to have the one of a kind, then look no further than this artist who screens and prints her own linen. She can work with you to design your fabric, then she will construct the pillows, tea towels, napkins, coasters, or wall hangings or give you the option of purchasing the fabric  itself so that you can recover your chairs or have your curtains made. The possibilities are literally endless!
Medieval Rose linen pillow
I wish I were smart enough to come up with some of these things. I love the sleek look of the stainless steel and think that this would save The Husband from asking me nearly every day, "Now, where did you put the mail?" 
SODA:  retro modern mail letter holder
My dear grandmother, Lou Lou, had a train case from the 40's that looked a lot like this. It went with her wherever she went. It was the perfect size for all of her toiletries, jewelry, make-up, and a change of underclothes. I think I want to bring the train case back; it's time has come...again!
Vintage Train Case - Royal Traveller Warm Caramel Brown Faux Leather Train Makeup Case
  Who ever knew that old fans could be so chic? Or old cameras? Or your grandfather's binoculars? Or your great-grandmother's opera glasses?  I really don't need an excuse to keep anything else, but again, all I can say is WHO KNEW? I guess my grandmother was right when she said, "Don't throw that away...someone will want it one day." The problem was she said that about EVERYTHING!

vintage 1930's GILBERT fan

                      Hope you will be inspired to do your own happy hunting on 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ode to a Vacuum Cleaner

     No, I am not being paid to say this. Even though I wish I were. However, I am not savvy enough to figure out how to get people to pay me to say the truth about the products or the things I really use. I always wonder about those celebrity endorsements, don't you? But I guess if someone was paying me the big bucks to tote around a Louis Vuitton bag, I guess I could force myself to do it. Otherwise, Louis V. and I will not be making one another's acquaintance any time soon.
     Back to the subject at hand. Vacuum cleaners. This post was inspired by a comment I made on a another blog. Does that mean that I am out of blog material? Probably. Except for the fact that I have serious opinions about vacuum cleaners. If you have a home or an apartment, you know what I am talking about. Forget the more pedestrian broom and mop, we are talking about one of those appliances you usually have a love-hate relationship with...the lowly vacuum cleaner.
    Since I am probably the oldest blogger on the planet, I have had the pleasure of living through several inventions of the vacuum cleaner. You name it, I have probably used it. I grew up with an Electrolux, but gimme a break, seriously, who can afford it?! Besides, they are too labor intensive. You are exhausted by the time you get it all out of the closet and select the correct attachment. And it has so many attachments that it almost warrants its own closet, which it was fortunate to have at my mother's house. (That would be an impossibility at my house, by the way.) When I was kid, I was totally fascinated by the automatic cord return, but with the hefty Electrolux pricetag, it's a fascination I can live without. And the Kirby, forget that one. It's like the Humvee of vacuum cleaners. TOO HEAVY. I am assuming you will eventually want your children to vacuum and the Kirby is like lifting weights. They are going to whine and cry and you will end up doing it 'cause the Kirby is a monster to handle.
  I have also used something called the self-propelled Hoover (vastly overrated) because you still have to push it and truth be told, I was attracted to a vaccuum that said self-propelled because I basically wanted it to do the work for me. What a pipedream!
   Then lo and behold, the bagless vacuums became the rage. So I bought a bagless Hoover Wind Tunnel at a garage sale, and it still works most of the time.  However, it has been demoted from duty and has been relegated to life in the playroom which is where old vacuums go to die in my house. My biggest issue with the bagless Hoover is that I don't want to actually look at how much dog hair I live with---and the see-through viewing window makes this something you simply cannot avoid. Am I the only one who finds that there is absolutely nothing attractive about all those dust bunnies and their dog hair friends spinning around in the front of your vacuum cleaner for all to see. It's totally gross. This is precisely why trash receptacles are opaque. Who really wants to see the detritus of life? And then, to boot, you have to clean it out yourself. Yuk. Double yuk. I cannot believe how successfully the vacuum cleaner industry has transferred the role of trash disposal to us. And we didn't even whine about it. They convinced us that the bags are too dirty, and so emptying your own cannister is somehow not? What suckers we are. Besides if you are any sort of germaphobe, in addition to a hazmat suit, you would want to wear gloves and a mask, use a heavy disinfectant, and take a shower every time you undertake this task.
   Now we move on to a discussion of the New Kid on the Block: The Dyson. I call it the King of Hype. My daughter-in-law has a Dyson, but I just can't get my head around spending that much for something that keeps changing it's design concept every year. I think going with tried and true has some validity when it comes to buying an appliance that could (note, I say could) be used at my house every single day. So...drum roll. If you are looking for something that will never disappoint you or leave you out in the cold (or neck deep in the dog hair), you need to look no further than an ORECK. I have owned two Orecks and am still having an intense love affair with this little lightweight and carry it anywhere with only one hand gem of a vacuum cleaner. And if you think I actually might know what I am talking about, then march your little fanny right out and buy yourself an Oreck. The folks at Oreck also run really good sales a couple of times a year, so if you are not in desperate straits, call and find out when these are.
     Here's my bona fide endorsement: I owned a refurbished Oreck for 12 years that needed servicing a grand total of 2 times, and that was because it ingested something that should have never been on the floor to begin with. When my adult children heard that I was thinking about getting a new Oreck, they actually argued over who might be able to walk away with the old one (which probably could have qualified as an antique at that point.) But it still worked. I got some money for Christmas so I upgraded to the model that has the setting for wood floors, and I use it everywhere, even in my kitchen. I am still in love with it. It is light, compact, and totally dependable. I am telling you, these things never die. And the best part is that if you have to take your Oreck in to be serviced, the Oreck dealership will give you loaner model. That's because they understand that people who drive Orecks (they are like little cars) are totally addicted to them. So Oreck it is. Don't adulterate yourself and look at anything else. There is a reason that hotel housekeepers love these suckers. One they are indestructible, and two, they are worth every penny you pay for them. That's my two cents, for what it's worth! And like I said, I wasn't paid a dime! Too bad.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Headed to the Beach...and in the Meantime

   I will be in no man's land for a few days, and I am looking forward to it. No temptation to link to Pinterest or to follow all of my favorite blogs. Just The Husband, me, the sun, the sand and the surf. It doesn't get much better. Besides, this will be waiting for me when I get back home to Nashvegas!
Some Little Two love!
Little One on her way via wagon to brunch at Madonnas!

A Fond Farewell to Summer

   In the summer we do casual dining. It's a sometimes crazy mix. This week my Bible Study girls came over for a pot-luck salad supper. We ate on the porch, and I set the table. A couple of the girls laughed at the incongruity of the table setting, but hey, it worked for me.
    These are the elements I combined:
A somewhat faded or shabby chic blue and white vintage tablecloth 
I had starched the heck out of as I tend to find that starch will always disguise a multitude of sins!
Square white plastic plates from a party supply store
that were designed to be DISCARDED during clean up! Yay!
Blue linen napkins 
Please notice that the blues don't quite match the tablecloth, and I prefer it this way!
Stainless steel silverware right out of the kitchen drawer
Sterling silver goblets 
Yep, you read that right! 
My rationale: who doesn't love the coldest water imaginable on a hot summer day? 
And the best way to get that is to drink it out of a silver goblet! 
Besides, silver goblets also add that timeless touch to any table.
Wooden flower holders from Urban Outfitters
Short candlestick votives: Two dollars apiece from Harpeth Antique Mall

See for yourself that it all worked together!

   But next to the girls themselves, the best part of the gathering was the delicious food. Here is a glimpse of some of our culinary delights!
Caprese salad with red Beefsteak and golden Roma tomatoes
That ole Southern standby: deviled eggs
Bread? You always have to have bread!
Hence the homemade pizza!

Here's my plate before I took the first bite!
Now, isn't that gorgeous!
Hope you are enjoying these last few weeks of summer!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reflections on The Help

    Watching The Help was an emotional roller coaster for me. I thought I was prepared because I had read the book, but I wasn't. I talked a good game beforehand, but when I got in there it all hit me: waves of horror, disgust, and deep sadness washed over me, juxtaposed against interludes of hilarity and joy, coupled with vibrant comic relief.  Like I said, it was a roller coaster. I shed big hot tears a few times during the movie and when it ended I wanted to get off by myself, in a private corner and have a good old fashioned heaving, gulping sort of cry. But, I hadn't gone to the movie alone.  I was with a group of women: black, white, and multi-racial, who had come together to see the movie from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Some were friends and some were strangers. I was an emotional mess, but I fought the urge to run away and cry as I joined the others on the front lawn of the theatre for a lengthy conversation.
    Originally our group had planned to go out to a restaurant, but the small-town streets of Franklin roll up about 10:00 on a weeknight, so we nonchalantly sat down on the grass close to where our cars were parked.
    I don't really want to talk about all that was said on that front lawn. It was an intimate moment afforded six women in a unique setting at a unique time. Some of the words that were spoken that night made me weep later. Others have given me pause and made me take another deep hard look at myself. I don't want to be prejudiced. I don't want to be a racist. I want to value each human being I encounter and count them as a valid image bearer of the Living God. But in truth I often fail miserably.
   The good that has come out of this process of introspection is I have come to a painful place of self-revelation, one that deals with my own propensity to label or categorize others. Take a deep breath. Here goes. When I pass judgment on a person, I am usually either assuming a position of superiority or I am coming from a place of fear. It sounds so simple. But the truth is never simple when it is ours. I am appalled that I have been so blind. Arrogance or fear. No in-between. Just those two extremes. I have tried to think of a single exception of a case where I judged another and wasn't guilty of one of those two, but in truth I cannot come up with any. Not a single one. That's a pretty good litmus test in my book that I might be on to something.
    If I am brutally honest, that means that I have more in common with too many of the white folks in The Help. They are afraid of the diseases the black people might carry, but they let them kiss, love and raise their children, entrusting them to impart important values along the way, "You are kind, you are beautiful, you are important."
   Oh, in this New Millenium I might not object to the black person or the Hispanic or the Muslim, but I often castigate and condemn those whose political or moral views differ vastly from my own.  And they are usually white people who look just like me. I just hate their politics or their attitudes or their ideas. I somehow think that I am morally superior to them. I am the enlightened one. They are...well they are to be pitied above all else for their ignorance and the error of their ways. Just how arrogant can one get? I am not looking too good here, am I?
   And we haven't even broached the subject of fear. That's when I really find myself backed into a corner.
I get afraid when the homeless man comes up to me in the parking lot of the gas station and surprises me when I am bending over picking up something from my back seat. I am terrified. I am vulnerable. I want him to get away from me. He sees the fear in my eyes and says, "Lady, I aint' gonna hurt you." But I am not so sure. I think to myself, "You can never be sure about the homeless." And there I am with my prejudice sticking out of me like a sore thumb. I have seen it when I least expect it. It is not pretty. Fear breeds ugliness. It also breeds more fear. And I need the cure.
     There was a lot of truth exposed in "The Help." As first I was disconcerted with the idea of yet another do-gooder white girl from the right side of the tracks riding in on her white horse to help the oppressed black maids find their voice. But Skeeter was only the bridge to the real story. The real story is about the black maids and the white trash white woman who individually and collectively are able to make their lives and their struggles so real and so personal that we ache. We ache deeply. And we walk out of that movie offended by the injustice of life then and really wanting life NOW to be different. It's what makes the movie, The Help, not just a movie, but a message and a transcendent one at that. Abileen and Minnie and Celia and Skeeter force me to look, not at those around me, but at myself.
     That is where change can and must always begin. I talked earlier about the cure. For me the cure is the redemption of Christ: that He would take a wretch like me and change me from within. That he would take my heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. That He would take away my spirit of fear and give me a Spirit, His Spirit...that is one of power and love and sound mind. Fear and arrogance are the antithesis of Jesus. He is the Repairer of the Breach, the Redeemer and the Reconciler. And His greatest commandment is that we love one another. No exceptions. None indeed. Not one.
photo courtesy of The

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Rare and Precious Gift

    It is a rare and precious gift to be able to share the core of your faith with someone you love deeply and then watch as they unfold like a flower under the blessing of God's love. I will never forget that night many years ago that my Baby Sister called me. I could not tell who she was. The pain and the tears she had already shed made that familiar voice unrecognizable. I immediately knew that something was wrong. I won't share the circumstances here because it was a deeply hurtful time for her, but let's just say that one sister had the incredible privilege of leading the other sister into the throne room of heaven where both knelt as one received the Grace and the Mercy that God so freely bestows.
   She was a different person from that night forward. The change in her life was palpable and real. And no, the pain of her circumstances did not vanish, but she had come to the fount of every blessing, and there she found the strength to life each day while ever growing in her wisdom and understanding of the Lord. I admire this sister. As a young woman she faced adversity head on, and she did not run away. She kept pressing in to the Lord and He kept pressing back, as He ever so faithfully conformed her to His image.
She's the Munchkin on the right!

This time she's in the middle and yours truly is on the right!
She and our Momma huggin' each other!   
  She is beautiful to me. When I look at her I see God's glory all over her. I see healing and redemption. I see freedom of forgiveness and the joy of broken bondage. No, she is not perfect, but she is as surely as the day is born, God's precious child. Oh and by the way, this is the day that she was born! Happy, Happy Birthday, precious Baby Sister! Never doubt that you are a rare, precious and very beautiful gift to God and to all who know you!

That's the Baby Sister sharing a bowl of yogurt with Little One!
Happy Birthday, Sister of Mine!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Place of Dreams

   It's something that you cannot hold in your hands. On any given day it can be blue, green, clear or dark gray. It can be smooth or choppy. It is not always good for drinking, but it sure is good for playing. It's that stuff that covers two thirds of our earth that has magical properties in the mind and heart of a child.  It might be some other body of water to someone else, but to me it is the water known as Cinco Bayou.
   I spent my summers as a baby and then a girl cavorting in the calm, gentle waters of the kid-friendly Cinco Bayou outside Fort Walton Beach, Florida. My cousins and I were literally in that delightful bay from sun-up to sundown every single day. We swam in the rain, we swam in the sun and in the evening we took a bar of soap and a towel and bathed ourselves clean in the bay. Our lives revolved around the water. We spent so much time in the water that I often wondered if my fingers and toes would be permanently shriveled.

   In the early morning and late afternoon we fished from the dock using cane poles, red and white bobbins and lead weights and fish hooks we had threaded and tied ourselves. Our bait consisted of spit-rolled bread balls that we ever so carefully squished on our hooks until the first fish was caught. Then that poor guy was immediately headed for the chopping block. (We even fought over who got to use the eyes because they glittered in the water and attracted the most fish!) If we were lucky enough to have left over fish heads, they became the bait for the crab traps where we tried our best to capture the delicious but elusive blue crab (we had little idea what a delicacy blue crab would become.) Sadly, we also tortured poor hermit crabs by lining them up on the sand and making them crawl ever so slowly back to the water's edge, only to have to do it again. And again.

   We cousins filled our days playing endless games that never seemed to grow old: underwater beauty parlor, underwater tea party and the game, catch-the-ball-off-the-dock-in-the-air-before-you-hit-the-water. We held garbled underwater conversations, practiced holding our breath as long as we could, turned underwater somersaults until our ears hurt, and practiced underwater ballet positions. A highlight of the summer would come when we would entice our grandmother into swimming with us all the way to the other side of the bay.    Our beloved Uncle Dunk worked for the Alabama Department of Transportation, and he provided us with the rare treat of very large inflated tires that must have come off of some very large trucks. We tied ply-wood to the top of the tires, filled Coke bottles full of sand and dived for buried treasure just like the Bridges family on the television show, Sea Hunt. Other years we went poling down the mighty Mississippi (really the shallows of Cinco Bayou) just like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Never mind that we were five girl cousins, we were in truth just about anything and everything we wanted to be. My cousin Babs and I even had all of the younger cousins who visited each summer convinced that we were girls by day and porpoises by night. We accomplished this largely due to the fact that we both lied convincingly (not a great trait as I learned in later life) and could imitate almost perfectly the sounds that the television porpoise Flipper made.
   Cinco Bayou and its environs afforded each of us cousins the fairy tale of a childhood. I could be whatever I dreamed I could be. And dream we all did. To this day when I find myself beside that particular body of water, I feel the stir of memories and the whisper of the magic within my soul. And then this middle-aged woman is suddenly a child filled with the joy of possibility all over again.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Help

   I am going to see the movie adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help, tonight with some old friends and some new friends. Some of the women I will meet tonight for the first time. We are going to the movie together and then go out afterwards to have some sweet iced tea or some wine or maybe something even stronger. We will talk about the movie. I don't think it will be a light conversation. We are women who can do light conversation (okay, tell me, is there a woman out there who cannot chit-chat, 'cause I sure haven't met her yet), but we mostly do real conversation. I am glad. Because tonight we will be dealing with a very weighty subject, one that we Southerners like to tiptoe around: the topic of race.

   It should be an interesting evening. One that I am likely to remember for a long time. The women who are going all claim sisterhood in Christ and we are all wives and mothers, to boot, but we certainly come from a wide variety of backgrounds and traditions. Some of the women are African American and some are white. It is hard for me to fathom that 50 years ago it would not have been possible for us to attend the movie together and then go out to a restaurant afterward.
   I guess that's one reason why we sometimes still tiptoe around the topic of race.
   I am the Grande Dame of the group. The others are babies. Not really, but they are, by and large, younger than I am. I guess that's why The Help is especially poignant to me, because I have a personal understanding of the context of the book. Not something of which I am especially proud. It is both part of my own personal history and the culture of my upbringing.
   I have lived long enough that I can remember when the Civil Rights Act was signed. I also remember all of these other embarrassing and now reprehensible things like seeing water fountains labelled colored and white and the fact that black people in my hometown were at one time not comfortable eating at certain restaurants or being seen socially with whites. While there were appropriate venues for interactions: weddings and funerals, one could not escape the fact that in the sixties and early seventies there were definite barriers between the races that existed throughout much of the South. There were even race riots in my high school when the all-black and the all-white high schools were combined into one. I remember that and more. In fact, there are plenty of things about this era that I would love to forget.
   I am thankful that times have changed. No, that is an understatement. I am grateful to God for living long enough to see the dividing walls come down. But I have a stinking feeling that there is still rubble that remains under many of those walls. There is undergrowth that needs cleaning out and tearing away.
   I guess that's one reason why these women and I will go out tonight and not play it safe. We will lay the cards on the table. All of them. We will look at the good and the bad. And we will be thankful that we each know the one true Repairer of the Breach, the Reconciler, and the Redeemer...even Jesus Himself! All you sisters, can I hear an Amen?!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Something Old Becomes Something New

  Back in the day (that would be the seventies, ladies) brides wore these lovely contraptions known as "headpieces." They were important because the wedding veil with all of its layers was attached to them. Headpieces came in a variety of styles. Mine was relatively plain as far as 1970's headpieces go and featured clusters of tiny seed pearls accented with lace. Of course I saved it. When my own daughter married, I didn't even bring up the question of the headpiece and the veil. I mean, what was the point? I already knew the answer. The Daughter wanted something that would coordinate with her dress. And she was right, of course. So The Husband and I ponied up the money for the dress and the veil that the only daughter wanted. I was somewhat mollified when I learned that her veil actually had a name, Sound of Music. Since that is my favorite movie, it made me feel a little better about spending all of that $$$ on a veil.
   When my niece married, my sister came up with a genius idea. She took her own 1970's headpiece and transformed it into a ring-bearer's pillow. You won't believe it until you see it, but it's absolutely gorgeous. So, I am showing you a picture of my headpiece and my sister's transformed-into-a-pillow headpiece to give you an idea of what is possible.
   So all you aging women who were young once, dig out your wedding headpiece and have a little fun. You might be surprised what you can create. This is taking recycling to a new level!
My wedding headpiece and veil
Circa 1974

My sister's wedding headpiece (Circa 1976)
transformed into a beautiful pillow!
Another view!
   Don't be afraid to use your scissors. The curved frame of the headpiece was cut in two and then shaped around the square pillow form. As you can see above, it even overlaps the pillow form on the sides. The divided form actually adds substance to the pillow and makes it easy to grasp or carry. The bow in the center fills the gap where the two sides of the headpiece were joined together and provides a soft sweet touch. You could probably get by with using a glue gun if you don't want to drag out the sewing machine. I like projects that don't turn out to be too difficult, even if I always end up with a few glue burns on my fingers!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just Because

    Just because. Just because I want to. I love these pictures of my granddaughters. They make me smile every time I look at them. I am so thankful that I have lived long enough to be a grandmother. It has been one of God's sweetest blessings in my life. So thank you, God for all of the good gifts you have given me, but especially for the gifts of Little One and Little Two. They make me happy all over.
Little Two, South Carolina, Mid-May

Little One with Pappy, July 30

Sunday, August 7, 2011

New Adventures

    Little Two starting crawling this week and I opened a booth in an antique mall. Little Two is now mobile and I am suddenly tied down. Both of us are happy.
    Since I live with an erstwhile hoarder and have made visiting antique malls a lifelong hobby, I figured that I had the requisite credentials for launching such a venture. No doubt the proof of my so-called business acumen will be in the proverbial pudding. My goal is to make enough to cover my rent and then have a little bit left over so that I can purchase more stuff to go in my booth. Sounds easy enough to me. I think The Husband is already sure that what little profits I make will be immediately reinvested. I think that appears to be a sound business plan to me. I am off to a running that regard anyway! The booth officially opened for business on July 30 and as August 7, I have already recouped slightly more than half of my first month's rent, and there are still 24 days left in this month! Whoo hoo!
   I am finding that there is a great deal of trial-and-error in this antique booth stocking process as well as challenges in utilizing my space well. I credit Miss Mustard Seed for a lot of inspiration as well as Darby from Fly Through Your Window with her Honey Bee Tees. If these women can step out of the box and pursue something that they enjoy, then why can't I?! When it stops being fun or challenging and gets to be a drudge, then I will move on; in the meantime, I am enjoying every minute!
     So...if you find yourself in the Nashville area, please stop by the Harpeth Antique Mall in Alexander Plaza off of Hwy 96 in Franklin, TN. I am dealer B-1 and my booth is on the far wall (about half-way down) on the right hand side of the store. I am attaching pictures to give you an idea of the kinds of things I have available in my space. If you think this sounds like a shameless is!

Oh, if anybody knows what that thing on top of the bookcase is,
 please let me know! I picked it up because it was unusual,
but I have absolutely no idea what you would do with it.
I would love for you to enlighten me if you can!
   I realized that I don't have any pictures of the left side of the booth; I will try to rectify that shortly. When I look at these pictures, I realize that I am definitely not a minimalist. I don't think there are many minimalists who have booths in antique malls, anyway. However, my own house is not this cluttered. Maybe I should rephrase is no longer this cluttered.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thirty-Seven Years Old

 Thirty-seven years. 
That's the age of our marriage. 
Sure sounds like a long time. 
It is.
In this age of drive-by marriages followed by drive-by divorces, our marriage has aged well. 
The Husband and the marriage are keepers. 
Even today, when I hear the words to our song, 
"Could It Be I'm Falling in Love," by The Spinners, 
I still smile and say yes. 
I know it's corny, but I can't help myself!
Here's our secret to a marriage with longevity: 
Lots of forgiveness, lots of falling in love again,
and lots of clinging to the Lord when it all seems to be going downhill! 
Oh, all that and the ability to laugh at oneself!
Happy Anniversary, Honey. 
I am pretty sure I would marry you again today.
Nope, make that very sure.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fig Preserves from the Baby Sister

   One of the things I like best about talking recipes with The Baby Sister is that you immediately realize she spent years as a school teacher. Her explanations are thorough, logical, and clear. I hope I can do her justice.
Fig Preserves A Step by Step Guide or Canning for Dummies!
   Assemble all of your canning tools! You will need the following:
       1. Canning jars with screw lids and seals
       2. A ladle
       3. Canning funnel
       4. 4 quart heavy Dutch Oven
       5. Pound of sugar (you will not use the whole thing)
       6. A jar lifter or an oven mitt
       7. Approximately 4 quarts of figs

A few notes about the canning supplies: My sister uses both 4 ounce and 8 ounce jars. She buys these in bulk from her local Wal-Mart or they can be ordered online. She likes to have a few of both sizes available because you never know how your figs are going to pour out into the jars. Your last jar just might need to be the small size.


You will use the ladle for spooning the liquid in the jars. Spoons just don't work as well. You should trust my sister on this.

If you don't have a plastic jar funnel, you need to march right out and buy one. My sister said that this little $3 tool is indispensable. So go get one NOW. Again, she got hers at Wal-Mart. You can order nicer ones online, but I don't know why you would want to. This one works just fine.
Use a heavy pot for cooking your figs as in heavy like cast iron. Of course, Caphalon works well, or if you are lucky enough to have gourmet cookware, then go for your All-Clad or your Le Creuset. In our family, cast iron does the trick.

My sister uses an oven mitt to lift her jars, but I saw this jar lifter online and thought it looked fun. I probably would not use it enough to justify the purchase, even though it's pretty cheap. Also kitchen storage is always an issue at my house so this would end up at the back of a cupboard where it would only be seen by the mice. So, use the oven mitt.
I hope you are still with me, now we are ready to talk about the figs.
   You will need to put up your figs as close to harvesting them as you can, but if you don't have time right away, simply refrigerate the figs in an open container. DO NOT WASH THEM and DO NOT PEEL THEM. Just remove the stems. Your processing will get hot enough to kill any germs. I guess if they are covered in bird poop, you can wash them, but otherwise leave them alone. 
    Fill your Dutch oven up to the top with figs (usually right about four quarts) and go ahead and pour the sugar over the unwashed figs. The ratio is 1 quart of figs to 1.5 to 2 cups of sugar. That's a lot of sugar, but you can rationalize it by saying this is candy or dessert in a jar.
     Let the figs sit in the sugar overnight or for several hours uncovered.
     When the sugar has settled, you are ready to cook. Start the figs on low, low heat and cook them very slowly. Your figs will take several hours to cook down. 
      At the same time that you begin cooking the figs, put your jars in your dishwasher along with the screw tops and the seals. Run the cycle using the HOT temperature wash and dry cycle. 
      Hopefully the figs will be about ready when the dishwashing cycle is finished and the jars are sterilized and still hot. The figs should be brown and have a good bit of syrup. Don't let them get too dark or they will be more like candied figs instead of the consistency of preserves.
      Remove two or three jars at a time with a hot mitt (or your jar lifter) from the dishwasher and put them on the counter. Put your wide mouth funnel over one jar and using your ladle, fill it with figs until it is 1/4 inch from the top. Then ladle more syrup, completely covering the figs (this is important...if you leave figs uncovered, they will not be good). Leave only 1/8 of an inch from the top of the jar, which is the space needed for the seal to compress. If you have any leftover fig syrup, save it to pour over ice cream!
       As you finish each jar, put the lid seal down and lightly screw the ring to the jar. Do not fully tighten the ring yet. Leave the jars on the counter to cool. Soon you will hear the sound of popping as the jar cools and the seal forms a suction over the jar. This is good. When the jar has cooled to the touch, you may screw the lid on tightly. Four quarts of figs will make roughly 6-9 half-pints of preserves. In case you forget, a half-pint is 8 ounces. Even though my sister taught school, I had to verify this fact on the internet. Don't worry, she did not teach math. Label and date each jar with a Sharpie. Be very, very proud of yourself!
       If you have any jars that do not pop, simply refrigerate them and use them within the month. All of the other jars can go in your pantry. Your fig preserves will be good for a year or so, but I am betting that you won't have any jars left when the next harvest rolls around.
       I can this "Canning for Idiots," because my sister has made it so simple, anyone can do it, including me!  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's a Front Porch Life

Here's hoping that "It's a Front Porch Life" will be a semi-regular feature (which means whenever I feel the urge) from now on! This is the first installment:
  The Daughter lives in an urban neighborhood. The kind where there are front porches on most of the houses. They are not those little things that I call a stoop that passes for a front porch in suburbia. I am talking deep porches with deep eaves that were designed to allow breezes to circulate in and around the porches and the houses they frame. The Daughter lives in one such house that was built about 1910. Granted there are some disadvantages to living in a house built in 1910, but most of those can be rectified with some creativity, something called hard labor or sweat equity, along with plenty of that green stuff otherwise known as money, but I digress.
     Today the daughter had a fig-picking party. She invited several of her close friends and their children to help harvest the bounty from the fig tree in the front yard. They made the front porch the base of operations for the fig-picking adventure. The fig tree is a lovely obliging lady who has produced figs from top to bottom, and this year she has made everybody in the neighborhood happy. The birds stop by first thing in the morning to claim their breakfast. They are followed by the squirrels who dart in and out in an attempt to remain anonymous (why squirrels act this way, I have no idea). The little chipmunks who live under the porch have even been known to take a mid-afternoon fig break, and there have been more than a few neighborhood dogs rooting around among the few early figs that have made it to the ground. However, despite the members of the animal kingdom who enjoy the figs, it's the adults and the toddlers who are loving Miss Figgy the best.
   Little One is convinced that God put that tree and those figs there just for her. When The Daughter and her husband moved in two years ago in August, the fig tree was forlorn and neglected. The previous owners had spent most of their time renovating the house and probably considered the overgrown bush in the front yard to be a nuisance. Little did they know.
   Now that once downtrodden fig tree is fat and happy. Last year's harvest was good, but this year's harvest is looking like it's going to be phenomenal. I just know it's all that front porch love, conversation, and water that Little One and her family have been giving Miss Figgy. And Miss Figgy is thanking them in return for bringing her out of obscurity and back into the mainstream of life by producing a marvelous bounty of sweet juicy figs! You go girl!

Source: via Missy on Pinterest

Tomorrow I will share the Baby Sister's easy recipe for Fig Preserves. She has shared her preserves with me, and I can promise you that they won't last long around your house!

Monday, August 1, 2011

     "If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in." 
 Frederick Buechner (Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter's Dictionary)

    Rain or shine, snow or sleet, my husband awakens every morning, puts on his house shoes and heads outside to get the newspaper. He picks our paper up and then he walks over to the adjacent driveway and picks up another paper. This one he carries right up to the front door and places it on the front stoop so that the elderly person on the other side can get to it without having to go too far. It's a simple thing really, but it is an act of gratitude and an act of love. 
   Our next door neighbors are a gift from God. Mr. M, all of ninety years old, gets up every morning at 4 am and drives his bright red truck into town to an inner city grocery store that he owns and still runs. Do you realize how few inner city grocery stores there really are? Our city is no different from many others. In a time and place when many of the urban dwellers with no transportation are forced to do their grocery shopping at minute markets and gas stations, Mr. M and his family are committed to the inner city community they have served for the past 65 years. The Daughter shops there. I shop there when I am on that side of town. I always tell the cashiers that Mr. M is my neighbor because I am proud and honored to know him. 
    Mr. M's wife no longer drives. Yet they both still lead important and productive lives. They are active members of their church community (their attendance puts ours to shame); she attends a weekly Bible Study, and they spend countless hours with family and close friends. They are also the patriarch and matriarch of a still growing clan and their faces glow with joy and pride when they talk about their children, grandchildren and great-grands. 
    They are also two of the kindest and most gentle souls I have ever met. They are not famous. However, I am willing to bet that in the kingdom of heaven and in God's economy, they are bona fide treasures of incalculable worth.  Mr. and Mrs. M are salt of the earth people who love Jesus and it shows. It radiates outward in the way that they love their family, the way that they have loved us, their neighbors, and the way that they live their lives. Every single day.
    I hope we can stay close enough to them for their goodness and kindness to rub off on me, 'cause when I grow up, I want to be just like them.