Friday, July 30, 2010


Things have been crazy around here . . . too crazy!  And wild . . . too wild.
Volleyball season starting up.  Soccer season just ahead.  School books to order.  Planning to be done.  Portfolios to put together.
And in the next two weeks I have 4 projects to hurdle over.  The kind of projects that have other people involved.  The kind of projects that I can't put off or avoid by pulling my pillow over my head
And I'm afraid I've let my mind begin to stew and simmer and, dare I say it, obsess and worry.
Until this morning my eyes popped open at 3:00 a.m. and I had the old familiar feelings of panic that always crop up when that stewing and simmering and obsessing and worrying are allowed to go on unchecked.
I knew right away I had lost my focus.  My eyes were on my to do lists; my mind was trying to rise to the pressures of thinking everything through; my focus was on others expectations, my ability to meet them . . . and the resulting fear of not coming through.
At 6:00 a.m., the radio popped on, and I heard:
I will lift my eyes to the Maker
of the mountains I can't climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
of the oceans raging wild
I will lift my eyes to the Healer
of the hurt I hold inside
I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes to You
Ah, yes, sweet reminder.  He is my Maker, my Helper, my Healer.  I was never intended to do life all alone.  I was never intended to do life gripped by fear.  I was intended to do life with Him by my side, and His sweet unconditional acceptance and unshakeable love renewing my strength every day.  Time to lift my eyes . . . and calm my mind.
You will guard and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind is stayed on you
because he commits himself to you, leans on you, and hopes confidently in you.
(images - tinywhitedaisies)

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Joy of Polka Dots

I have talked about polka dots.

How they make my heart a little skippier when I see them.

How they put a smile on my face.

How they make just about anything happier.

So, then, I was delighted when this weekend I found polka dot balloons!

Little pieces of circular joy.

To start out your week with some happiness of your own, here are a few more favorite polka dot pics to put a smile on your face.








"Be strong in the Lord.  Be empowered through your union with Him. 
Draw your strength from Him, that strength which His boundless might provides."
Ephesians 6:10

Have a joyful week!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Porch Redo - The Completion

And so, the Porch Redo is done.  I promised myself I!  And it is.  Here are some before and afters of The Porch Redo/Hubby Birthday Present.

Before - Claustrophia:

After - Freedom:

Before - Is there a porch in there?

After - Ah, yes, there is!

Besides painting the concrete and knocking out the railing, we patched and painted the posts and added new numbers:

The tired-out 1990s floral cushions got traded out for new, snappy stripes:

Pathetically scraped and abused wood was mended and painted:

I found an adorable little table clearanced at Hobby Lobby.  Just right for setting on a book or a glass of iced tea.  (If I knew how to make iced tea!)

A pair of tired out and faded planters got a fresh coat of paint, a coat of antiquing glaze and filled with plants.

So . . . did I have it all done by the time the Man of the House and Oldest Son arrived home from the basketball tournament on Saturday afternoon??  Ha!!  Of course not.

But the big stuff was done . . . the removal of the bars, the painting of the floor, the patching and painting of the posts, the trimming of the bushes.  And, best of all, when they got home, I was sweating and wrestling and trimming away with the manual trimmers (couldn't find the electric!), looking for all the world like an amazingly hard-working wife, completely dedicated to the delightful birthday surprise which I was attempting.

I think he likes it.

  The Man of the House is a little . . . shall we say . . . less than verbally exuberant.  In other words, reserved . . . calm . . . matter of fact.  But I think he felt celebrated.

Now, if I could just get that reserved, calm and matter of fact other half of my Marriage Contract to get to the rest of the bushes!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Porch Redo - Part II

. . . continued:
The Head Paint Counter Man looked serious.
"Angie tells me you want to paint "Tan" over "Weathered Oak"!
It was an accusation.
"I need to let you know that it won't work."
The panic hanging "around the edges" for the past hour fully invaded my stomach.
"But Angie Assistant told me when I ordered this 5 minutes ago that it would work!"
"Well, yeah, maybe if you had applied the second coat within 30 minutes.  But it's been, what, 5 hours now?!"
He rubbed his auburn buzz cut fiercely.  How had I ended up at the Principal's Office?
"So, now you're telling me that since I didn't do the second coat within 30 minutes, I can't put on a second coat at all, not even of the same color?"
I'm not a rabid directions reader, but I surely think I would have noticed that in my quick back-of-the-can scan.
"That's right!  This is called a sealant, ma'am."
He didn't even try to smile.  He'd seen too many stupid DIYers in one day.  Why didn't they just hire a professional in the first place?
"But I don't have full coverage even after one coat!  Even if it wasn't the wrong color it looks awful without a second coat."
Shouldn't there be some large red sign on the can, warning you that you have only 30 minutes between coats, so don't bother catching the phone, using the toilet, or rehydrating with a glass of ice water, or your "window" is shot?
"Let me call my distributor."
He returned.
"Nope, I'm sorry.  There's nothing you can do now!"
Non-matching, unevenly absorbed, poorly applied sealant-covered porch.  Happy Birthday, Dear.  And, yes, you're right, I did forget to run the sledge-hammering of the rail by you.
I was desperate.  There had to be a fix.
"So, you're telling me I can't sand this off?"
"Use Kilz over it?"
"Expose it to nuclear radiation?"
"No.  Probably the best thing to do is let it wear away."
Uh-huh.  This is my front porch.  No sun, shielded from rain.  We're looking at 25 years of slow wearing away.
"Of course you could use muratic acid."
"But we all know that pretty much just eats the cement away."
Aha.  I furrowed my brow knowledgeably and nodded.  Oh, yeah, sure wouldn't want to trust that muratic acid.
"Well, since we've already mixed it, you'll need to pay for it.  Registers are up front.  Have a good day.
I could feel the tears collecting in my throat.
Stupid porch redo.  Stupid impenetrable sealant.  Stupid birthday present.
"Oh," the Paint Counter Guy flagged me down.  "You could always call the 800 number on the side of the can."
Pay.  Run out to car.  Flip open cell phone.  Punch in 1-800-HELPME.
A low, gravelly voice answered bruskly.
"Quikcrete hot line.  This is Anne."
"Oh, Anne {voice cracking}, I've painted my front porch and I hate the color and I want to cover it with a deeper color, and the Paint Counter Guy says I can't put on a second coat even of the original color because it's a sealant and it's already sealed.  And it looks awful."
"Well, now, let's see."
Sounds of clicking and scrolling.
"Okay, it says, 'Apply 1st coat, wait 24 hours, and apply 2nd coat.'"
"But the Paint Counter Guy said after 30 minutes you couldn't put anything else over it.  It's a sealant."
I wanted full disclosure here.  All facts known.
{Low chuckle.}  "Just shows how much he knows.  'Course you can't put anything ELSE on over it, but you can paint the SAME product on over it." 
The gravelly voice was patient and protective . . . like a kindly, indulgent parent with an overwrought, foolish child.  Yeah, that's exactly what it was like.
"And I can use a color several shades deeper?"
"Absolutely, honey."
She couldn't see it, but my arms were wrapped tightly around her neck and my head was buried in her ample bosom.  (Aren't most sources of comfort endowed with "ample bosoms" in books??)
"Oh, Anne, you have made my day."
Another chuckle.  Maybe I made hers too.

And so, the next morning Youngest Son rolled on "Tan."  And it was like caramel.  It went with the grout, the rock, the brick.  It was perfect.  Like rolling on some delicious ice cream topping.  I think Anne would have liked it.
Still to go . . . trim bushes, paint pillars, put up new numbers, sew new cushions, paint scraped-up rockers.  One day left.  Victory in sight.
"After" pics are coming!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Porch Redo - Part I

In my typical "why-plan-ahead-when-you-can-stress-yourself-out-by-doing-things-out-at-the-last-minute" manner, I decided on Thursday to do a porch redo.
And not just any porch redo. But a porch redo for the 50th birthday of the Man of the House.
Now, you might be asking, "Did the Man of the House really want a porch redo for his 50th birthday??"
And to that I would say, "Well . . . uh . . . I don't know." Actually, I haven't been able for 20 years to figure out what to get the man who doesn't want anything. I do know he loves updates on the house. And so it's either another golf shirt or a porch redo.
I chose the porch redo. And I informed all the kids that they were going to be joining me in this porch redo . . . as a present to Dad.
"Hey, do you have something else purchased??"
"Oh, good. So glad you'll be joining me for the porch redo!"
So here's the "Before."

Horrid stained concrete. Claustrophobic narrowness. Ugly rocker cushions.

View from a rocker seat. (Ack!! I'm in jail!!)

And whose job is it to trim these bushes?? I'll have to check the Marriage Contract.
Now, it just so happens that Thursday morning The Man of the House and Oldest Son left for a basketball tournament. Ah, perfect timing. If I rally the troops, all will be done by Saturday afternoon. Birthday surprise on its way!
Here's how the first day went down:
Early Thursday Morning: Middle Son starts us off by sledgehammering out the railing.

Middle of Thursday Morning: We get busy scrubbing mildewy pillars and dirty cement.

Late Thursday Morning: I edge the cement floor in Quickcrete's "Weathered Oak" . . . a yummy mushroom color.

I feel the edges of panic beginning. I don't think I'm going to like this color. I notice that the brick is a deep caramel-y color. The grout is a light caramel-y color. Yes, the rock has some hues of taupes, but I also see golden browns gleeming all through the rock wall.
And I am painting on a color that is turning out a Light Stone Grey.
Never mind. Press ahead.
End of Thursday Morning: Youngest Son does a stellar job rolling the sealant on.

Thursday Noon: I feel sick to my stomach. I hate this color. When I look out the front door, it looks like the house is floating in a gray storm cloud. Or maybe it looks like a brick-trimmed marshmallow deck . . . made of gray marshmallows.
(Do not be fooled by this picture into thinking the paint looks okay.
Oh, no. It was a terrible mismatch.)

May I insert here that my Paint ADD is becoming a bit of a trend. I am beginning to accept that in order to get an acceptable paint color, I must first select, purchase and apply the most wrong-est color in the world. And then, and only then, will I be able to pick just the right color.
This is why I am not an interior decorator. (There are many reasons.) Because in order to decorate your living room, I would first have to design it in Asian Modern before I figured out that you wanted French Country all along. And at that point you would be trying to sand the red lacquer off the walls.
Early Thursday Afternoon: Morning well nigh wasted. Husband home in two days. He will not like seeing the house floating in a gray storm cloud. This will not be a cheerful birthday surprise.
I dash back to Lowe's, desperate to rectify this problem. Let's go with a caramel-y tan instead.

(Hurry! Hurry!)

Mr. Paint Guy shakes his head ominously. We have a problem.
To be continued . . .

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hobnail Milk Glass

I have always loved Hobnail Milk Glass.


Not that I could have told you it was "hobnail milk glass" I liked, because I'm pretty sure I remember it from one of my grandmother's homes.


And I'm very sure nobody was discussing "hobnail milk glass" at Grandma's house.


It was just where we drank our orange juice . . . or into which we put our flowers . . . or filled with ice water.


As a dedicated polka dot LOVER, hobnail milk glass gives me polka dots on creamy white glass that can not only be seen but also felt!!


What brilliant genius came up with something this fun?!


So, imagine my delight when I came home from Minnesota with a hobnail milk glass pitcher and glasses set from my mother-in-law!!

All the other beautiful pictures I've shown here are of other people's glassware. But the picture below . . . it's of my own new set . . . all mine!

Thanks, Mom!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Small Town

If the farm was Paradise, equally enchanting was the town of Westbrook, Minnesota.

Hometown of the Man of the House.

Population: 757

What do I love about this small town?

Long sidewalks under old, old trees:

Main Street - 1/4 mile long:

Community Pool to cool off in:

Gorgeous Victorian home awaiting renovation:

Not a fast food joint in sight:

Piece of farmland turned in to a 9-hole golf course:

Community barbeque dinner -
Close down the street; pull up a chair:

Its aging softened by the beauty of its surroundings: