Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rain drops on roses...

Rainy spring days have a beauty all their own. The air smells sweet and rich. The drops fall softly on newly opened leaves and add grace notes to velvety petals. If the air is still, you may catch a glimpse them before they slide off to nurture root systems, tender sprouts and inhabitants of the soil.

The images posted here today were taken on a windless rainy day in early May last year. I crept through wet grass to sneak up on unsuspecting raindrops while they still glistened in the morning light. And so, basically I created a photographic study of the raindrop.

a budding rose

a pale bearded iris

a summer snowflake viburnum

leaves of day lily and iris

a voluptuous pink peony

more bearded iris

leaf of a lady's mantle

a white pansy

In memory of Josephine, who loved her life among the flowers.

Some of my favorite things are just beyond my front door. I encourage you to explore your own little corner of the globe and hope that you, too, will find some of your very own favorite things close at hand.

Until next time...


Spring ephemerals

violet (viola canadensis)

In the world of botanical-ease, the earliest wildflowers are called "ephmerals" because they are quite fragile and, unfortunately, short-lived. My part of the world plays host to numerous species of wildflowers, many of which bloom and thrive in my 11 acres of woods; many are pretty enough for the gardens around the house. In honor this glorious spring day, I have taken a walk around the property and snapped some images to share with you of the earliest spring flowers. Some of the flowers are literally here today, gone tomorrow, which puts a whole new twist on the notion of carpe diem. We would all do well to follow their example and allow ourselves to bloom unabashedly, without apology or hesitation, when the time for doing so is upon us.

the entrance to the woods

toothwort (dentaria sp.)


bloodroot (sanguinaria canadensis): so called because the juice from the root stains one's skin bright red.

the toothwort and bloodroot-covered hillside

trout lily (epimedium sp.)

fragile fern ( I don't know the latin name for this)

virginia bluebells (mertensia virginiana) in the backyard
The term "wildflower" is s bit misleading, as some plants believed to be wild are, in truth, weeds that have naturalized. They have moved in and made themselves at home. Common names for flowers can be quite charming, I think. They harken back to older, simpler times. Many have the suffix "wort", as in toothwort, attached, which simply means plant. For those of you with a scientific bent, only latin names will do. Some species, like corydalis, are only known by their latin name anyway. All of the plants I have shown you today are native to this part of the world, eastern and upper-south of the U.S. They are the true wildlings that blanket the hill sides and valleys of the fertile woodlands where I live. Some are as lovely as any cultivated garden flower, such as the bluebells, which have held a special place in my heart since my early childhood.

I hope you have enjoyed this bit of botanizing with me. As the spring progresses, I will keep you updated to changes occurring on the forest floor. Some flowers are just emerging from their long slumber. By this time next week, it will be a completely different picture.
Until next time...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My first award...

My new friend, Carrie, from the vintage wren,, honored (and flattered) me with a blogger award yesterday. She has a gorgeous blog where she posts her incredible photos and muses about her inspirations. Carrie possesses an honesty and a generousity of spirit that comes through in her posts. Please check out her site.

The rules of the game are that I now have to share 7 things about myself.

1. I live with my husband, my 17 year-old daughter, 2 dogs, and 4 cats.

2. My house, garden and acres of woods provide me the greatest comfort.

3. I love to cook and even like to clean (usually).

4. I am the youngest member of a women's writing group in my community called the Image Spinners. We have met monthly for several years.

5. I am constantly changing things around in my house, from furniture placement to decorations to bedding to the drawers in the kitchen. Sometimes this drives my family nuts!

6. I had studied both French and botany at the college level, before eventually settling on social work.

7. I go through periods of time where I am intensely interested in doing a specific activity, almost obsessed with it, and then the desire to pursue it fizzles out, and I move on to something else. These interests always cycle back around, however. At any given time my passion may be painting, sewing, mixed media art, writing, photography, gardening, or decorating. The only constant is reading.

Now I am supposed to pass this award on to 15 deserving bloggers out there. These sites brighten my every day. There are so many talented women here in blogland!

Here goes:

1. Janice at canadian cottage:

2. Jackie at secret garden:

3. Lori at automatism :

4. fairmaiden at sea cottage:

5. Trina at a country framhouse:

6. Vanya at endless inspiration:

7. Cindy at my romantic home:

8. Kelly at little french nest:

9. Kristin at my uncommon slice of suburbia:

10: Belinda at No.21:

11. Annette at annette's hus:

12. Molly at molly frey designs:

13. Kathy at kate's place:

14. Lee at glimpse of style:

15. Johanna at vintage:

Happy Tuesday to all!!

Until next time...

Monday, March 29, 2010

And now for something a little different...

Today I am expressing my love for both black and white photography and fine architecture. The photos here were taken by me last summer in Nashville, Tennessee. They showcase different aspects of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home to the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. This is a fairly new building built in the grand Greek Revival style. It is located a few blocks off the beaten path, so no one else was around the day I took the photos. I like the think of these images as building portraits.

This is my favorite one. It was incredibly sunny that day and the light made the water shimmer like stardust.

The courtyard... This would be a dreamy spot for a wedding, don't you think?

Fountains at the front of the structure. The sound of water is everywhere. Notice the trademark columns off to the left, the hallmark of the style.

Benches always draw me in. They seem to invite comtemplation whether one is seated there or not.

The symmetry of these benches is soothing to me. Formal elements such as this provide rhythm in a landscape.

More columns support the loggia that protects to the courtyard. Notice additional benches and the sculpture in the distance.

A view of the back facade.

Detail of a ground level window.

A view of the Schermerhorn Center from a window across the street. Yes, I'll admit it... I stalked this building.

A close-up of the columns and the masonry. Look at those hanging lanterns! I find them ultimately impressive.

And lastly...

a couple of photos showing how I display this passion in my home.

Here is a picture of the mantel in my dining room, proclaiming my love of black and white. This is a mixture of some pictures taken by me and some taken by my daughter, an award-winning, accomplished young photographer. The fireplace is non-functional at present, so I set up a mirror in the back of the firebox and reflective surfaces in front of it and then added flame-colored minilights draped over branches to create a warm glow.

A huge matted print of the wall fountain photograph presides over my living room.

I hope you have enjoyed this departure from the usual as much as I have. The wonderful thing about interior design is that it allows a person to blend and express her many passions, as you can see here.

Until next time...


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Our remodeled kitchen...

Three years ago we undertook a remodeling of our patched together kitchen. This endeavor was exhaustive and challenging, as everything except the plumbing and walls was replaced...and my husband and I did it all ourselves, with a little help from our close friend, Country Bob. I have assembled some before and after shots for your viewing pleasure.

Come along and have a look.

Before: The kitchen had its original 1960's, site-built cabinets. They were poorly designed and constructed, but we managed to make the best of what we were given for 12 years. We had bought new appliances and laid some ceramic tile back in 1996. We had installed open shelves to provide a bit more storage space. And we added free-standing pieces to increase work space. In this photo, Steve and Bob, are tearing out the old cabinetry.

During: Look at that wall... so yucky!

AFTER: Drum roll, please...

We pried up the old tiles (what a horrendous job that was!) and laid new ones in a neutral, dirt-masking beige. We installed new cabinetry and countertops. All the cabinets are maple, although some have a natural finish and others have a pickled finish.

We built half-walls and a colonnade to provide a dramatic separation between kitchen and living room. The tile backsplash was something I designed to look like a patchwork of stone. There is a similar one surrounding the tub in one of our bathrooms. This kind of attention to detail gives the whole house continuity. The countertop to the left of the range is granite to provide a smooth surface for rolling out dough.

You can see some open shelving in the corner and how the backsplash travels around the room. We installed new lighting all around. There is one ceiling fan in the center of the room and task-lighting above the sink and countertops. All lights have dimmer switches, a feature I would recommend for every room in the house. At night, when dimmed, these lights resemble softly glowing candles.

I have mentioned in previous posts how fond I am of open shelving, beadboard and white dishes. These were a must for me!

The countertops are maple butcherblock. I was drawn to them for their durability and old-fashioned look. They require a bit of maintainance, but are actually quite easy to deal with.

The south-facing window lets in a ton of light and provides views of the flower gardens out back.

The pantry cabinet has been a godsend for keeping us organized. You can see a glimpse of the dining room beyond.

A note of interest: the majority of the natural maple cabinets were salvaged from my brother-in-law's house after his kitchen was remodeled. We supplemented them with Kraftmaid cabinetry in a pickled finish to appease my desire for some white cabinets. I'd like to paint them all, but that is still a topic under discussion!

Our kitchen is still not quite finished. There is crown molding waiting to be installed and some toe kick in a couple of places needs to be put in too. It is getting close though, and I am pleased with how it has turned out. This room is unbeatable for functionality and storage.
Thanks for coming along on this journey through our remodel.
Until next time...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My latest project...

Today I share with you my latest project, a simple side-table makeover. I bought this three-tier shelf years ago. It was actually part of a closet organizing system. At the time I got it, my daughter was quite young and in need of a small table for her bedroom. It seemed to be indestructible, and the price was right (I think it was about $27.00). Over the years this thing has been in several rooms of the house, serving various purposes. I have kept it around because it is quite a handy piece, although, I 've never been happy with its appearance. Most recently the table has been used in the living room between the sofa and an oversized club chair.

Let's take a look at the before and after pictures, along with some shots that show how nicely it now fits into its my living room.

Before: the shelf unit in its original state. It is made of white oak slats, and is super sturdy.

After: I added some ceramic tiles, which were custom cut to slip into place. After a coat of paint, summer white, my favorite from Sherwin Williams, and some faceted crystal globe finials (actually cabinet knobs), this table has become as sophisticated as it is usable.

Here is the made-over table in back in its old spot.

My home has no formal entry, so this table and the coat tree are the places where outdoor gear, keys, glasses, etc. get deposited. Daffodils from my garden bid welcome to all.

The second shelf holds a divided serving tray that corrals the trappings of our everyday living.

Yellow and green accents add cheer.

I like the angles of the porch gable, as they are seen through the lights of the front door.

The view from the kitchen into the living room. Whiskers, my oldest cat, remains steadfastly perched on the back of the couch.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing my project. It's been fun for me! Maybe this will inspire you to take up a simple project of your own.

Until next time...



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