Saturday, February 22, 2014

Red-tailed hawk

As rains blew in from the south, 
swirling with the threatening winds,
one avian soul perched in the box elder tree
waiting, watching
for a glimmer of hope, 
for a flash of movement in the field below,
for the promise of his on-going survival

Happy weekend, dear friends.  
May your days be filled with equally wonderful surprises.

Until next time...


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Confessions of an inspiration junkie

Are you an inspiration junkie?

Do you strive for creative ways to use things you already have on hand or things recently purchased from antiques stores (such as the crocks we use for our firewood)?

Do you spend almost every free moment pouring over decorating books and magazines, home furnishings catalogs, design blogs, and idea-packed websites like Houzz or Apartment Therapy?

Do you look at stories with a discerning eye, until something strikes you and you think, "This would totally work in my kitchen/living room/bedroom/office..."?

Do you look at articles for ideas about what to do with that item you just bought from the yard sale down the street because it was too cool to pass up, but you weren't sure what to actually do with it?

Do you seek out new things or new arrangements of things to keep your mind engaged and your spaces fresh because when things becoming stale you feel as if you are a steel trap?

Do you live for that moment when an idea hits you like a lightening bolt and you rush off to get started on your latest project?

If you answered "yes" to all of these questions, you may, like me, be an inspiration junkie.

Inspiration junkies are always on the lookout for something new.  This could be a new way of using something old, a new way of seeing, a new way of being.  This manifests in chronic furniture and/or accessory re-arrangeing, re-styling your rooms, re-organizing your belongings.  It often means that instead of buying something new to fill the need, you shop other rooms of the house and change things up a bit, like I did yesterday when the rug from my bedroom made its way to my living room in efforts to encourage spring to not be so shy.

I seek inspiration everywhere, all the time.  For me, there is no better feeling than when possessed by the muse, whether it be the decorating muse, the writing muse, the painting muse, or any other kind of muse.  Being cradled in her grips and held under her spell, driven by the need to create and express something held deeply inside me, is the closest I ever come to my wild, divine nature.  When I am in the throws of this process, particularly with my writing, it feels as if the words or ideas are funneled from the ether, into my brain, and pass through me, spilling out onto the page.  The same process can occur when I am putting together a display on a mantle, tabletop, or shelf.  There are times when what I am working on just feels right.  I have learned not to question this nor to second guess myself, but to simply trust the feeling.

The only problem I notice is that too often, I find myself looking externally to the sources I mentioned above, waiting for that lightening strike, when I should be sitting quietly, looking within or perhaps even looking outside my windows. 

 Living in a lovely spot, surrounded by nature should provide me with enough inspiration.  I am working on this, being more quiet inside, waiting to see what comes to the surface on its own, without coercion or prompting.

Are you an inspiration junkie?  Please tell me I am not the only one.

Until next time...


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

With his white fur, pink nose and ears, and face shaped like a heart, Griffin seems the embodiment of a Valentine.  No bouquets of long-stemmed roses, candy hearts proclaiming "Be mine", be-ribboned boxes of chocolates, or sweeping sentiments of romance are needed when one this beautiful is in repose on the sofa, basking in late afternoon sun, purring softly beside me.  
He is love incarnate, the cat who came to live with us on the anniversary of our first date.
And this is enough for me.

Wishing you a Valentine's day filled with love and light.

Until next time...


Monday, February 10, 2014


A study in black and white,

a meditation on zooming in.

The camera lens records it all:  light and shadow, texture and veining, 
variations in color and shape, ruffled edges of each petal, toothed edges of each leaf.

All is exposed before the lens, 
and yet oftentimes, there remains a mystery, which entices the viewer, compelling her to ponder what lies just beyond sight, outside of the frame of view; what lurks beneath the frilly, furled petals; or with human subjects, what is the model in the photograph remembering and feeling as the shutter clicks?

Macro photography, one of my favorite types of photography, extends an invitation to see and an opportunity to indulge in that sense of wonder.  As one who was always enchanted with tiny things, playing with my marco lens is a delight in that it allows me to come in closer... and closer still, until the richness of previously undetected detail explodes before my eyes.  And the more I see, the more I want to see; the more I know, the more I want to know.
There is always more to the story, if only we take the time to dig just a little bit deeper, to look a little closer, to listen a little more carefully.  Macro photography gives me the opportunity to do just that.  Leaning in is not enough. One must zoom in, with senses and heart wide open, for that is where authenticity resides.
That is how we discover the essence of things.

Until next time...


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Very pretty...

 I awoke on this grey morning to a delightful surprise.

My Meyer lemon tree has blossomed!  The heavenly scent is permeating my living room.  Last year, which was my first year with the little tree, it produced 5 lemons.  They have a bit of a tangerine taste to them and are somewhat sweeter than traditional lemons.  I am hoping for a bigger crop this year.  It takes about 9 months from flower to ripe fruit.  I waited in anticipation for this small miracle and was thrilled that it unfolded in my home. 

Here is my kitten Oberon posing with the lemon tree last summer before the fruits had ripened.

 I am thankful to my mom for giving me this tree.  It was a birthday present in 2012 and one that will delight me for many years to come.

This is just the perfect bit of springtime I have been needing to get me through the recent icy and snowy days. 

May your day also bring some sweet surprises.

Until next time...


On being frugal-- Part II

In this part of the series, I will focus on one recent time when frugality paid off in style and ambiance-- the first time-- and where waiting until the timing was right proved to be the wisest move of all.  Patience can be difficult to manage when being bombarded with images of enviable rooms and so much cool stuff on the market for the home, but is also a necessary element of having a home that is authentic and evolves with you.

Our house has five recessed lights in the great room, you know, the kind that look like big, white fish eyes.  When we moved in they were filled with incredibly bright flood light bulbs-- so bright that we chose to never turn them on, even though that sometimes meant stumbling around the house in the dark in order to get to another light switch or a table lamp.  

I had been intending to replace them with pendant light adapter kits to change up the style just a bit but wasn't quite ready to take that plunge.  The adapters I'd seen were priced at $30 each and glass shades were an additional $15 to $25 for each light.  With 5 lights to outfit, the cost was adding up quickly, and so I waited.

  We were shopping at Lowe's recently (I seem to mention Lowe's quite a bit, don't I?), and I noticed that some of these adapters had gone on clearance for $6 each.  Six dollars for the bronze finish adapters I had been hoping to purchase-- what luck!  They are the kind that are supposed to have a hanging drum shade with them, however that would have looked too bulky in this small room, so I opted instead to simply outfit them with 40-watt round Edison bulbs, and I am smitten with how gorgeous they ended up being!

The lights emit the softest, warmest glow, one with a quality similar to candlelight.  At just 40 watts each, they are dim enough to be easy on the eyes.  They are sprinkled around the room in such a way as to create an even light, eliminating shadows and bright spots.  They also draw attention to the dramatic cathedral ceiling, which soars to about 24' at its peak.  And since they occupy very little visual space, they don't compete with the other elements in the room, such as the windows or the decor.  The pendants are subtle and simple, hinting at industrial style, which also seems to be a recurring theme with me these days.

My husband was skeptical, not sure how they would look.  "Oh, ye of little faith," I said to him, "Trust me on this.  It will be extremely cool."  In my book, "extremely cool" is about as good as it gets.   To his surprise, he loved them once I had gotten them all installed, which was quite simple to do.  They simply screw into the socket, and you wrap the cord inside the fitting to achieve the desired length. He said the soft lighting adds some romance to the room.  In a multifunctional space, where kitchen, dining, and living areas are all very close together, this can be difficult to achieve but is something I work hard to create.

I am among the thankful that Edison bulbs will continue to be produced.  CFL's just would not provide the same ambiance, even though they certainly have their place beneath a lampshade.

So for $13 times five, my great room glows every evening, providing warmth on these cold winter evenings.  This is one instance where being frugal, being creative, paring things down to their simplest forms, and waiting for the right time to act has paid off.  

And that makes me all warm and glowing inside!

Until next time...


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

On being frugal-- Part I

“There is no dignity
quite so impressive,
and no independence
quite so important,
as living within your means.” 
― Calvin Coolidge

Frugality is something I strive for, sometimes more out of the desire for a challenge than out of necessity, although at other times it arises out of necessity.  Sometimes it works out perfectly, where I am able to save some money and have the desired look and/or quality I am seeking; but other times, it does not pay to try to cut corners.  In this 2-part series, I will explore both of these scenarios.

A little background to the story:

When we moved into our new home last May, there were a number of hidden expenses.  We thought that in buying a new home, things like the electrical system, the well/plumbing/septic system, and the HVAC system would all be up to code (even though there is no official "code" or code enforcement in the extremely rural area where we live) and in proper working order.  This turned out to be wishful thinking.  We have had to hire contractors to work on all of these systems in the short time we've lived here.  Hopefully, that trend is now over.  Thankfully, things seem to be operating smoothly at last.

And so, when we moved in, there was not extra money available to spend on non-necessary or cosmetic things.  Moving is expensive, even without these added costs.  So, for example, I purchased very cheap pulls for the cabinets.  They were actually window sash pulls that cost about $2.50 each.  I thought this would work out great-- cheap prices and good looks, what more could you want?

They looked fine but didn't give me the style I had been seeking.

 I pined for some industrial-style, satin nickel finish bin pulls I'd seen at Lowe's.  I would walk down the cabinet hardware aisle and sigh, "Wouldn't it be nice..."  At home, I would often get scratched upon opening cabinet doors by the ends of the screws sticking out in the back of the cabinet.  Since these were window pulls, the screws were slightly longer than the thickness of the cabinetry, and the sharp ends poked through.  

"Enough is enough," I thought.  A few days ago, I went back to Lowe's and purchased the bin pulls I had been coveting.  They were more expensive, but the boost in style and comfort was worth the higher price tag.  This is one example where being cheap did not quite work out the way I expected.  These bin pulls draw together and echo other elements in the kitchen, reinforcing the bistro look I am striving for, as well as tying in to the steel finish of the appliances and pans.

In this instance, I would have been better off spending a little bit extra and getting what I wanted from the beginning.  It is always better to make one purchase only and save the time and expense of having to do something all over again.

This is a lesson I will take to heart.  The good news here is that the original expense and the secondary one were still under a couple of hundred dollars.  I would be a lot less chipper about the whole thing and probably angry with myself had I overspent and ended up being dissatisfied with the results.

I have also learned that what seems a bargain to one person may seem way overpriced to another.  My husband and I have this debate much of the time!

Stay tuned for part II where I discuss one example where my being cheap paid off the first time.

Until next time...



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